Have you celebrated the holidays if you haven't enjoyed a festive cookie? I think not! Stay on track with your goals this year and satisfy your sweet tooth with these delicious healthy Christmas cookies.
These soft, chewy oatmeal cookies are low calorie, low sugar, low fat, and incredibly easy to bake. Each bite is lightly sweet and spiced, with delightful bursts of white chocolate, cranberries, and pecans.
I highly recommend these cookies for all your sweet treat and afternoon pick-me-up needs. In this article, learn all my secrets for how to make the best healthy Christmas cookies recipe you’ll want to eat all year round!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST HEALTHY CHRISTMAS COOKIES
This recipe is one of my favorites when I’m in the mood for a sweet treat, but am trying to stay on track with a healthier whole foods diet that emphasizes wholesome ingredients. Using healthier alternatives can help reduce food guilt, and keep you on track with your diet goals this holiday season.
To develop this recipe, I used a handful of tricks I use often to help make my favorite baked treats at home a bit healthier.
Use Coconut Oil Instead of Butter
Coconut oil is an easy swap for butter in baking recipes that call for fat. While both butter and coconut oil contain saturated fat - which can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol - coconut oil also boosts good HDL cholesterol.
Thus, coconut oil may make a more neutral contribution to heart disease in comparison to butter. While avoiding saturated fat in your diet is important, coconut may be the lesser of two evils here.
I recommend using whichever you feel most comfortable with or have on hand. I’ve tested this recipe both ways and the amount included is interchangeable between the two.
Use Applesauce to Cut Fat & Lend Sweetness
To cut down on fat, and lend natural sweetness to these cookies, I’ve used one of the oldest tricks in the book - applesauce. In this recipe, I’ve used unsweetened applesauce to help cut down on sugar and calories.
Replacing half the amount of fat (whether using butter or coconut oil) with applesauce keeps these oatmeal cookies nice and moist, without needing the extra fat. Plus, the flavor of sweet applesauce mixed with oats and cinnamon is a match made in heaven.
Use Alternative Sweetener to Replace Sugar
Next, I wanted to sweeten these cookies without adding sugar. While these cookies aren’t completely sugar-free, there’s no sugar added into the dough. In this recipe, I’ve decided to use organic maple syrup as a more wholesome alternative with a heartwarming and comforting flavor that pairs well with the oatmeal in these cookies.
When purchasing maple syrup, it’s important to carefully read nutrition labels to ensure the only ingredient in your maple syrup is maple syrup - free from refined sugar and corn syrup. If your store has options, darker maple syrup is typically a better option for baking than lighter varieties.
If you’re not a fan of maple syrup as an alternative to sugar, consider trying honey. I’ve tried honey with this recipe and it’s just as good as maple syrup. If you do decide to use honey rather than maple syrup, you can use the same amount listed.
Use Whole Grains Over Refined Grains
To keep these cookies a little more wholesome and nutrient-dense, I’ve decided to forgo all-purpose white flour. In this recipe, I’ve used white whole wheat flour instead, which retains natural nutritional value and is a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
It’s important to note when baking with whole wheat flour, your baked goods will come out not only more nutrient-dense but dense in texture as well. If you prefer a lighter cookie, you can always experiment by using half whole wheat, half all-purpose flour. I’ve done this trick many times in baking, and the result comes out closer to the refined cookies we’re used to, while still being a bit more healthful.
Add Nuts for a Boost of Healthy Fat
In this recipe, I’ve decided to include nuts as one of the toppings. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and fiber and can contribute to improved heart health, as well as feelings of fullness.
Nuts are a great addition to a healthy diet. If you’re not a fan of eating plain nuts, incorporating them into a treat like a healthier cookie or home-baked granola bar is a more palatable way to sneak some healthful nuts into your diet.
HEALTHY CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPE ADAPTATIONS
I want you to think of this recipe as a suggestion. Something you can make, mold, and experiment with. One of the best parts of baking is making your twists and tweaks to make the recipe fit your dietary preferences and flavor profile.
There are plenty of ways you can adjust this recipe to make it healthier. For example, dark chocolate has less than half the sugar and ⅕ of the sodium of white chocolate, and it has fewer calories. If you enjoy dark chocolate, it could be a great replacement for white chocolate in this recipe.
You could also use any dried fruit of your preference in place of the cranberries or forego the dried fruit altogether. I know cranberries in a cookie may seem like blasphemy to classic cookie devotees, but I’m telling you don’t knock it until you try it.
Finally, if you’re watching your sodium intake, consider reducing the amount of added sodium. I’ve kept the added sodium at a minimum in the dough, but you could cut back by not adding the sprinkle of sea salt to the top of your cookies.
Be creative and do whatever you’d like with these cookies! The dough is a great base for any of your cookie cravings all year round.
HOW TO PREP AHEAD FOR HEALTHY CHRISTMAS COOKIES
I can attest that you can make this dough in advance. These cookies will last in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the fridge for up to 5 days, and the freezer for up to 30 days.
You can freeze the dough for easy healthy cookies on demand. Or make a double batch so you can make some now and have some to bake fresh later!
HEALTHY HOLIDAY COOkIES
Prep: 10 mins, Cook: 12-15mins Total: 25 minutes
Serves: Makes about 18 Cookies
Serving: 1 cookie
- 1¼ Cup Quick Oats
- 1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- ⅓ Cup Applesauce
- ⅓ Cup Coconut Oil
- ⅓ Cup Maple Syrup
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ⅓ Cup White Chocolate Chips
- ¼ Cup Dried Cranberries
- ¼ Cup Crushed Pecans
- Sea Salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer combine wet ingredients, beat until smooth.
- Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
- Fold in chocolate chips, cranberries, and pecans (or other toppings of choice).
- Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- With a cookie scoop, drop the dough in 1½ inch balls and arrange on a baking sheet. For one standard-sized baking sheet, you’ll be able to fit around 9-12 cookies comfortably, this recipe makes about 18 cookies in total so you can expect two batches.
- Before baking, I like to add a light sprinkle of sea salt on the top of each cookie. Not necessary - but delicious!
- Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the edges (they’ll still be soft in the center).
- Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a baking sheet to continue cooling.