The holidays bring with it plenty of goodies to savor and share, but I must say that my favorite treat to enjoy has to be cookies. Even though we can eat cookies any time of year, I think they taste so much better during the holidays! Unfortunately, we know that, typically, cookies are made with pretty un-merry ingredients: refined sugar, refined flour, loads of butter, partially hydrogenated oils, and potentially dangerous dyes and colorings. While this can be devastating news to anyone who enjoys a cookie or two this time of year, there is a solution. What if I told you there are plenty of recipes you can find that will help you bake without using any of those toxic ingredients, but instead are loaded with healthier alternatives, some of which can even give you a boost of nutrition? I’m sold!
One of my favorite cookies to eat is gingerbread; that warm, spicy flavor just screams Happy Holidays! I wanted to find an alternative recipe to try this year for a cookie swap party I’m attending, and I’m glad to say I’ve found the perfect one. The cookies come out big and soft and go beautifully with a hot cup of tea. I’ve attached the recipe below (courtesy of Running With Spoons), but first I want to point out some of the great health benefits baked right into these treats.
Blackstrap molasses is made from cane sugar, but the repeated boiling process it goes through gives it the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product. What’s amazing is that unlike refined sugar with has zero nutritional value (and can actually strip nutrients from your body), blackstrap molasses contains vital minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, and selenium. *As always, if you have diabetes or insulin resistance, you should avoid ALL sugar, even this kind.
Coconut oil is used as a replacement for butter in this recipe, making it a great solution if you are baking a vegan-friendly cookie. 85% of fats in coconut oil are medium chain fatty acids, which are easy for the body to burn as fuel for energy, and they have anticandida properties (prevent the overgrowth of yeast in the gut). These healthy fats also raise your HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) and lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind).
Coconut sugar contains inulin, a fiber that can slow glucose absorption, giving it a lower glycemic index than table sugar. Although it is still something to be used quite sparingly, this may be a good substitute for white sugar and many of your recipes that call for it. *If you’d prefer a less-sweet cookie, you may omit the sugar, or reduce it by half.
Ginger is a powerful little root that can ease symptoms of nausea and indigestion, reduce muscle soreness, reduce arthritis pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties, and protect the brain through its antioxidant properties.
Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and provide antioxidants to the body, and improve digestion. Be sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, which unlike the more common variety, Cassia, has a much lower presence of a chemical called coumarin. Coumarin is a natural plant chemical that is a blood thinner and has been shown to be toxic to the liver and kidneys.
Almond and coconut flour are excellent refined flour replacements and suitable for anyone following a gluten-free lifestyle. Almond flour is high in protein, fiber, and minerals, and is best when sprouted. Coconut flour high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and it has more fiber and fewer carbohydrates than wheat flour.
I am excited to share these cookies with my friends at the cookie swap this weekend, and I hope you will make up a batch and share with your loved ones as well! It is more important than ever to share the information you have learned through this program to give others a chance to experience how to live a healthy lifestyle and how rewarding it can be. Be a living example and give the gift of your health knowledge to those you love this year. Happy Holidays!
Link to the recipe: Flourless Gingerbread Cookies
What is your favorite alternative cookie recipe? Let me know in the comments below!