Category Archives: Cookies

5 Tips for Healthier Baking

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
Image by Kelly Garbato

Tips for Healthier Baking

Tips for healthier baking almost sounds like an oxymoron, but notice that it says healthier (meaning compared to the way you usually bake) – not completely healthy. Of course, you must add moderation into the mix. A treat now and then is not a bad thing – especially if they are relatively healthy. It is the over consumption of empty calorie desserts that can be harmful.

Everyone seems to be jumping on the diet band wagon for either gluten-free or all natural diets – which is a good thing.  Eating healthy is the key to a long life. Unfortunately, diets usually have restrictions that make it difficult to stay with them – especially when it comes to sweets. Today, I have good news. If you are smart, you can eat healthy and have your cookies too.

Baking will always haunt those who have a true passion for cooking – and baking cookies is one of the most tempting of the lot.  It you have a family who loves homemade cookies, it will be difficult to stop making them – and when they are around, you will be tempted.

With a little creativity and some determination you will be able to bake healthier alternatives for you and your family.

All you have to do is balance out your baking recipes with healthier ingredients – and still add a handful of your favorite chocolate chips to satisfy your sweet tooth, which you have worked so hard to control.  Of course, eating them in moderation is critical, even when they are a healthier version of the original.

Following are 5 tips that you can use to easily substitute into your recipes for healthier baked goods!

Healthier Fat Replacements

Most baked goods, especially cookies, require butter or some type of fat that adds flavor and acts as a binder. This is an important area where you need to get creative.

First start cooking with healthier oils that do not contain the trans-fats which are so harmful to your body and are generally the specified ingredients in cookies. Then, find other healthier replacements for the fats.

  • Replace butter with canola oil – especially if the recipe calls for melted butter. For chocolate chip cookies, try replacing ½ cup butter with ½ cup of canola oil.  Canola oil has no saturated fat.
  • Exchange pureed fruits and vegetables for the oil in muffin, cookie and cake recipes. For more details, read: Reducing Fat in Your Favorite Baked Goods Recipes.
  • Replace butter with plain, non-fat Greek yogurt at a 1 to 1 ratio.  (½ cup butter = ½ cup; not recommended for amounts over 1 cup). OR – replace ½ the butter with an equal amount of Greek yogurt.
  • If butter is required – replace half the butter with half as much yogurt.  (1 cup butter = ½ cup butter and ¼ cup yogurt.)
  • If shortening or oil is required, replace half the oil with ¾ the amount of yogurt. (1 cup oil = ½ cup oil and ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons yogurt.)
  • Replace half the amount of butter with applesauce.  (1 cup butter = ½ cup butter and ½ cup applesauce.) If you replace all the butter with applesauce to cut even more calories and fat, the result will be a more dense and moist bread – not recommended for cookies.
  • Replace half the butter with mashed avocado (good for cookies); (1 cup butter = ½ cup butter and ½ cup mashed avocado.) Lowers the calorie content and creates a softer, chewier baked good. Excellent in chocolate desserts and brownies. Peel and pit avocados and mash thoroughly. Add two teaspoons of lemon juice for every cup of avocado puree to prevent browning.

Pureed Fruits and Vegetables

This is a common substitution and if you do it correctly, it can be one of the most beneficial choices in terms of healthy substitutions.

Pureed vegetables can substitute for the qualities of egg as a binder and adds its own unique flavor. For example, use pureed apples and add them to your cookies with a dash of cinnamon and you already are on your way to success.

For example:  Roasted beets, either shredded or pureed, can be used in chocolate or spice cakes – especially good in Red Velvet Cake. They add sweetness, moisture and color, but they don’t add any weird veggie flavor when paired with rich cake. Replace fat ingredient with ¾ cup pureed beets in any chocolate recipe.)  DO NOT use without the chocolate.

Pureed zucchini is a wonderful binder in brownies. The flavor of the cocoa is so strong that you do not even taste the zucchini and if it is blended right, you won’t notice the texture either. This is perfect for kids and adults alike that don’t want to voluntarily eat healthy! For a particular tasty, healthy treat, try this recipe:  Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies.

Get Creative with Your Flours

There are plenty of healthy substitutes to all-purpose flour. With the current fad of gluten-free diets, finding substitutes will not be difficult.

At the very least, try replacing half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to add some fiber and nutrients. Or – better yet, use all whole-wheat. Experiment and see what works in various recipes. Start with cookies and brownies, they are the most forgiving. Cakes can be a little trickier.

If you want to go big with this, try looking into alternatives like chick pea flour or almond flour, which has only a fraction of the bad carbohydrates that are in white flour.

Keep in mind, that too much of one of these can overpower the flavor, especially something like chick pea flour. That means you’re going to have to experiment a little bit before you get it just right.

One final thought, for brownies replace 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of mashed black beans. Beans have much less impact on blood sugar levels and they are gluten free.

Ease Up on the Sodium

This one is easy. Recipes often call for a larger amount of sodium than necessary. You can usually shave the amount a little (¾ tsp instead of 1 tsp) However, be aware that removing too much can affect the rise in baking – so be careful with cakes.

Avoid Artificial Additives

Trans-fatty synthetic alternatives and synthetic additives and flavorings are never good for you. So, avoid all recipes that call for margarine – OR – replace the margarine with natural oils (even butter is better than margarine).

Healthy Versions of Your Favorite Recipes

For all of you bakers (novice to experienced) – baking is a wonderfully personal experience. So, when you first try some of these substitutions, it may not go very well at first – unless you are lucky. You may have to go through some trial and error to find combinations that work – and everything tastes and looks the way you want it to.

There are many healthy versions of your favorite baked goods online and in specialty recipe books (including the brownie recipe linked above). Just think about how impressed your friends and family will be when they find out that their favorite sugary snack of yours is actually much healthier for them than the ones they have been eating.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies – Pumpkin Harvest Series #10

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”22″ size_format=”px” color=”#d67d1e”]Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies[/typography]

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are heavenly, but frosted or filled with sweetened cream cheese makes them divine. This is a recipe that you will want to make soon and repeat often.



  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened (do not use margarine)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Filling


  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease a large cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper.

Make the Cookies

  1. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl and whisk together until blended.
  2. With a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well-mixed.
  4. Slowly stir-in the milk and pumpkin.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop dough onto the prepared baking sheet. (Don’t make the cookies too large or the filled cookies will be gigantic.)
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes. (Remember, these are soft cookies, so don’t overcook.)
  9. Remove from oven, let sit for a minute before placing on a wire rack to cool.

Make the Filling                                                                      

  1. Mix the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together until well blended.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy and smooth.
  3. Cover the flat side of one cookie with the filling and top with a second cookie. Press together like a sandwich. EASY PEASY!

NOTE:  Cookies can be eaten plain, simply frosted, or filled as directed in the recipe.

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Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cookies – Pumpkin Harvest Series #7

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#b87612″]Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cookies[/typography]

 Frosted Pumpkin Spice Cookies are as yummy as they look.  They are incredibly easy to make . . . and oh-so-easy to eat. Children of all ages will enjoy them (especially the cook).  


  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cold cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (¾ cube), softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Grated lemon or orange zest, ground cinnamon, or liqueur (optional)


Make the Cookies
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Lightly butter a large cookie sheet.
  3. Sift together all dry ingredients in medium-sized bowl – set aside.
  4. Cream together the shortening, sugar, and pumpkin – beat until smooth.
  5. Add egg and vanilla and stir until well blended.
  6.  Stir-in sifted dry ingredients.
  7. Drop from spoon onto cookie sheet.
  8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes.
Make the Frosting
  1. Place cold cream cheese, room temperature butter and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  2. Using an electric hand-held mixer on low speed, beat just until well blended.
  3. Add powdered sugar 1/3 at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency.
  4. If the frosting is too stiff, beat for a few seconds longer – do not over beat.
  5. Frost cookies after they have cooled.

Yield: 48 cookies.

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Cherry Fritters – Busy Mom’s Series, Day 11

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#b01030″]Cherry Fritters[/typography]

Cherry Fritters
Image by Kitchens Historic

Cherry Fritters are incredible! When you sink your teeth into a warm fritter and get a yummy piece of cherry – it tastes just like cherry pie! When cherries are heated they take on a whole new flavor, and it is awesome. Try this recipe now while fresh cherries are in season. 


  • ½ cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • ½ cup flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • Vegetable oil, as needed


  1. Place the oats and nuts in a medium bowl and stir until they blended.
  2. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed ~three minutes or until light and fluffy.
  4. Add milk to the dry mixture.
  5. Fold in the eggs/sugar mixture.
  6. Add melted butter and chopped cherries to the mixture and stir well.
  7. Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy sauce pan to 375° F.
  8. Fry up a test fritter and make adjustments to size of fritter and the temperature that cooks the fritters well without burning.
  9. Drop the batter into the hot oil (a small ice cream scoop works well or use a large table spoon).
  10. Continue adding one scoop (or tablespoon) of batter at a time until you have 3 or 4 fritters cooking.
  11. Allow the fritters to cook on one side until a golden crust is formed.
  12. Flip the fritters to cook the second side (total of 4 to 5 minutes).
  13. Add more oil as needed.
  14. Remove the fritters from the hot oil and drain on paper towels.
  15. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  16. You can keep the fritters warm in the oven – just set on a low temperature.   Serve hot!
  17. They can be eaten plain or with sour cream and warm maple syrup.

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Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with Coconut Oil

Chocolate Chip CookiesDark Chocolate Chip Cookies with Coconut Oil – easy, delicious and made without butter – great for vegetarians. Butter has always been very high on my list of important ingredients for baking (I NEVER use margarine); but when I saw this recipe, I decided it was worth testing – and I LOVE the cookies. There is practically no difference in flavor from the cookies made with butter.

Be prepared, however, because the dough has a very different consistency. Don’t let it make you nervous; the cookies will be fine.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#b32b2b”]Ingredients[/typography]

  • 2 cups white whole-wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
  • ¾ cup virgin coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate Morsels

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#b32b2b”]Directions[/typography]

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease cookie sheets with butter or non-stick baking spray.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Place coconut oil in large mixer bowl and beat until smooth, if congealed.
  5. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract; beat until creamy.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  8. Stir in chocolate chips.
  9. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto lightly-greased baking sheets
  10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft.
  11. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes.
  12. Remove to wire racks to cool completely – OR – enjoy warm with a cold glass of milk while the chocolate is still molten.

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