Gathering with relatives and friends to swap favorite confections may not be happening this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bake up a batch or two of your favorite cookie recipe … or try something new. These chocolate almond flour cookies get their sparkle from orange zest and shiny gold and silver sprinkles. And while they are certainly not fat, sugar, or calorie free, I worked some magic into the recipe to make them a tiny bit healthier. I used organic canola oil instead of butter, almond flour and gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour for a GF option, and less added sugar than most holiday treats.
I hope these cute little cookies add some joy and good cheer to your holiday season.
I’m more elf than Scrooge when it comes to holiday baking. I adore traditional holiday flavors, but as a dietitian, I like to add a dash of good health to my goodies whenever I can. To that end, here are some of the nourishing ingredients I often use when I’m baking sweet treats at the holidays or any time of the year.
Add smashed or pureed black beans, cannellini beans, and chickpeas to things like muffins, brownies, and 7-layer bars.
Expand your horizons beyond all-purpose flour with some whole grains instead. Bake with oats, spelt flour, and whole wheat flour to boost fiber, iron, and B vitamins. (Rule of thumb: If a recipe calls for 2 cups all-purpose flour, replace half the flour with whole wheat.)
Add chopped walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds and other nuts to biscotti, quick breads, and cookies to boost healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Chopped nuts also work wonders in crumble toppings and pie crusts.
Ground flax seed, and other seeds like sesame, chia, and hemp add fiber and good-for-you fats.
Adding pureed pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potatoes is a flavorful, nutritious, and natural fat replacer. In fact, a few tablespoons of pureed pumpkin would be nice in these cookies.
Smashed banana and applesauce add moisture and natural sweetness to baked goods, and adding dried fruit to holiday treats is also a classic. Pro tip: Go for no-sugar-added dried fruits like raisins, apricots, and dates. I use them in my Grab-and-Go Granola Bars which you can slice and drizzle with melted dark chocolate or sprinkle with powdered sugar for some holiday flair.
Olive oil and canola oil:
Bake with oils instead of butter like I did here with these cookies, or replace some of the butter in your favorite recipes with a healthy oil. Have you ever tried lemon olive oil cake?
- 1 cup 1 to 1 gluten-free baking flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup organic canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 5 to 6 tablespoons Sprinkles shimmer sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the gluten free flour, almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Place the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and zest in a medium-size bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (or longer) to firm up the batter.
- Pour the shimmer sugar onto a plate. Roll the dough into thirty two 1-inch balls and coat evenly with the sugar. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving a 1-inch space in between.
- Bake until cooked, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before serving. Repeat with the remaining dough.
What’s your favorite better-for-you sweet treat?