I don’t believe there’s a person on this planet that can say with a straight face, “I don’t have a sweet tooth.” And if you can, well my hat is off to you for sure (and I might be kinda jealous). For the rest of us, we all have at least one weakness. Mine is chocolate.
Every year, I tell myself I will be good and not eat as many sweets. But if you set anything with chocolate in front of me, it’s like your just asking me to cave! I will re-route my entire way around the house or office, just to avoid the temptation. I know there’s studies supporting that dark chocolate it good for you and eating a piece a day (especially for runners) is healthy, but come on now – who can really just eat one?! If I eat one piece, I want at least 4-5 more!
Now, I’m one of those people who insists, “Oh, it’s Christmas – just relax and enjoy the holidays! If you want cookies, have cookies!” This is probably largely in part because that’s what my mom says to me whenever I give myself some negative thoughts about my weight and “Oh, I really shouldn’t…” But this year, I’m actually trying to watch what I eat because I’m tired of the way I feel come January 1st – bloated, overloaded, depressed, and sick. You know the feeling – it’s uncomfortable to say the least and typically ends in a food coma.
But as you can probably tell, I’m very fond of baking cookies. Go figure, right?! And while I do have some pretty decent willpower, I want to be able to have my cookies and eat them too! But if you’ve taken a look at those recipes, I’m sure you’ve noticed some not so great ingredients – canola oil, Crisco shortening, all-purpose flour, and white cane sugar. If you’re trying to watch your figure, all of those (combined with the other ingredients you need to actually make something) won’t really help you keep it!
So this holiday season, it was my sole mission to find ways to lighten up some of the all-time classics. And I’m here to tell you – it is possible to cut the calories and not sacrifice the taste that you know and love. Trust me – I have a few cookie experts in the house and they couldn’t tell a difference (other than these sugar cookies didn’t break). I think if you try these out and taste-test against the classics, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Chewy Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (3.5-ounce) packet instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Pinch salt, optional
- 1 (12 ounce bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- In a large bowl or your stand mixer, combine the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the dry ingredients. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and add the chocolate chips. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
- Using a large cookie scoop, form tablespoonfuls of dough by compressing, compacting, and squeezing until the dough comes together; don’t be afraid to really squeeze it.
- Note: If your dough is absolutely not coming together, drizzle in one tablespoon of coconut oil at a time until it comes together.
- Place mounds on a large plate or tray, flatten slightly, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (up to 5 days).
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a baking sheet.
- Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for about 11 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set.
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving with your favorite glass of milk or cocoa!
Dark Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 cup instant oats
- ¾ cup whole wheat or gluten-free flour (measured correctly)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 T coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup fresh cranberries, chopped
- 3 T chopped dark chocolate
- In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the maple syrup.
- Slowly add in the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated.
- In a food processor, chop up the cranberries. Fold them into the dough along with the chopped dark chocolate.
- Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray.
- Drop the cookie dough into rounded scoops onto the prepared sheet, and flatten to the desired thickness using a spatula.
- Bake for 9-12 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Honey Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup honey
- 1 large egg
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a grease with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the peanut butter and honey. Beat until totally incorporated.
- Stir in egg and vanilla. Add the salt, soda and flour and mix until it comes together to form a dough.
- Shape dough into tablespoonful balls and place on the prepared sheet. Use fork to lightly press each dough ball down.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies become slightly golden brown. (Note: Be careful to not over bake! Honey burns much more easily than sugar.)
- Remove from the oven and place the cookies on a wire rack to cool.
Nutella Sea Salt Thumbprints
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 1 T coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Dash sea salt
- 4 T grass-fed butter, softened
- 3 T raw honey
- Coarse sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease) and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and a dash of sea salt.
- Add in the softened butter and honey. Mix well so the butter is evenly distributed.
- Drop teaspoonfuls of the dough onto the sheet and press your thumb slightly into each center.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Remove and place 1 teaspoon of nutella into the center of each cookie.
- If desired, sprinkle with sea salt and let cool before removing from the baking sheet and serving.
Skinnier Sugar Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter (to make vegan, use Earth Balance), softened
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar + more for topping
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 T cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- Place softened butter in a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer.
- Add sugars, vanilla, and pumpkin puree. Beat for 1 minute.
- Sift together dry ingredients. Use a spoon to briefly stir, then sift over butter and sugar mixture.
- Mix until until incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.
- Finally, add almond milk and mix until a soft dough is formed.
- Cover and freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30-45 minutes (can sit overnight if needed).
- Five minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350°F, and position a rack in the center of the oven.
- Scoop out heaping tablespoonful amounts of chilled dough and roll into balls. Or if you want shapes, roll out between two pieces of wax paper. Be sure to lightly flour the bottom layer so it’s easier to cut out shapes.
- Arrange cookies on a clean baking sheet at least 2 inches apart (to allow for spreading). If you’ve rolled the dough into balls, dip a glass into cane sugar and gently press dough down into a disc to help them cook more evenly.
- Bake on the center rack for 10-12 minutes for (8-10 for cutout shapes), or very slightly golden brown. Be careful not to overcook!
- Remove from oven and let rest on pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.