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Healthier Holiday Cookies

Change Flour for Fiber

"In olden days, people cooked with what they had on hand. If whole wheat flour had been in the pantry, you can bet your great-grandma would have used it," Mills says.

Whole wheat flour bumps up the fiber content of these oatmeal cookies. In your recipes, "Start by replacing 1/4 cup of white flour with whole wheat," Mills suggests. If you're happy with the taste and texture of the finished product, next time use 1/2 cup.

Because cookies made mostly with whole wheat flour tend to be heavier and coarser, try whole wheat pastry flour. "It's similar in texture to white flour," she says.

"You can replace up to three-fourths of the recipe's white flour with whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour, or up to half of white flour if using oat flour," Mills says.

Toss in a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseed for even more fiber.

Baking tip: Any whole wheat flour (including pastry flour) absorbs more liquid because it contains more protein or gluten than all-purpose flour. "You may need to add a little extra liquid, such as water or milk, to get the right dough consistency," Mills says.

This extra moisture can mean a longer baking time. Bake just three or four cookies before cooking the entire batch. If they're not done by the time the recipe says they should be, put them back in the oven and keep checking every minute or two until you're happy with the result.

More Healthy Cookie Tricks

Want to make your cookies even healthier?

  • Cut the salt in half. (You won't miss it.)
  • Use fewer chocolate chips. (Try smaller chips, or chop larger ones finely so they spread throughout the dough.)
  • Use fewer nuts if you're worried about calories. Otherwise, nuts add good fats and phytochemicals along with some protein and fiber. (Again, smaller bits will blend into the dough more evenly.)
  • Add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, vanilla, or almond extract.
  • Mix in dried fruit including raisins, cherries, cranberries, or chopped apricots for sweetness, texture, and color.

"Baking is more of a science than an art," Mills says. "You have to experiment with a recipe several times before getting the perfect measurements."

Because you're making changes, the cookies won't be exactly like Grandma's. But they'll still be tasty, and they'll be healthier.

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Reviewed on December 09, 2013

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