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Replace the Fat continued...

Vegetable purees. Cauliflower adds the lightest flavoring. Pureed fennel will add extra flavor to anise cookies.

Oils. Canola and sunflower oils raise good cholesterol, too. Canola oil also gives you healthy omega-3 fats.

The substitution is simple: 1 cup of butter = 1/2 cup of butter plus 1/2 cup of oil or pureed fruits or vegetables. For example, "In this chocolate chip cookie recipe, 3 tablespoons of butter could be replaced with an equal amount of canola oil," Mills says.

However, "Lower-fat cookies will have a denser texture," she says. "They won't be as crisp."

If you use margarine, avoid the hard sticks. Choose soft margarine in a tub with no trans fat and less than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving.

Baking tip: Reduced-fat substitutions will make cookies lose moisture during baking. Lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees, and shorten the baking time. Keep an eye on the first batch to get the timing right.

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.

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