With festive parties filling in your calendar and Santa Claus coming to town, it seems only right to declare this the season of the cookie! A holiday staple, cookies are loved by adults and children alike, and making slight recipe modifications can keep you on your doctor’s nice list.

Be A Smart Cookie

Sure, they’ll never be as healthy for you as other snack options, but there are plenty of ways to lessen the naughtiness associated with this divine confection.

Cut back on butter by subbing part of the recipe’s called-for amount with applesauce, mashed bananas, or heart-healthy oils, such as canola, vegetable, or olive. Significantly raise fiber content by opting for whole wheat flour instead of white for part, or all, of the needed amount. Adding rolled oats can also cut back on the amount of needed flour while adding fiber.

Another way to boost the health factor of your cookies is with flax seed.  This wonder crop is packed full of fiber, omega-3 essential fatty acids, and antioxidants, which can actually reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke!

Mixing it into your dough will not only add a little crunch to your cookies, but also help with digestive health.  Additionally, the oil in flax seed enables it to be substituted for a recipe’s called-for fats, using a 3:1 ratio.  For instance, if a recipe calls for a ¼ cup of butter, swap it out for ¾ cup of ground flax seed.  Your baked goods will brown faster with flax seed so be sure to be like Santa and keep a watchful eye.

‘C’ is for Cookie

Cookies are universally loved in part for their versatility. Flavor combinations are endless when it comes to mix-ins and frostings. This characteristic also makes it easy to sneak in ingredients with great health benefits.

During the cold months, it’s always a good idea to stock up on immune-boosting vitamin C, and believe it or not, cookies can help! Tossing dried pears into your oatmeal cookie recipe will add a sweet and unexpected flavor. Including citrus zest in your frosting will not only give you a delightfully tangy taste, but also add calcium, and bioflavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. You can also substitute lemon, lime, or orange juice as the liquid used in your frosting recipe to achieve great flavor and benefit from the vitamins.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Winter comes with a wonderful mix of opportunities to stay inside and get cozy, or get outside and be active. Skiing, sledding, skating, and clearing snow, are all ways that you can get your heart pumping, and a post-activity cookie can be a great reward.  On the flipside, curling up with a mug full of hot cocoa or coffee is also an opportune time to nosh on your favorite sweet treat.

As with anything, the key is balance. Using some of the healthier ingredient swaps in your recipes, will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but also ensure that you can have your cookie and eat it too!