Healthy Cookie Recipes for Any Occasion

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With a few adjustments, cookies like chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, gingersnaps and snickerdoodles become healthy family favorites.
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What's not to love about a batch of freshly baked Oatmeal Raisin Cookies?
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Use whole-wheat flour and add wheat germ to create a better, healthier version of Gingersnaps.
SIDEBAR:
Baking Substitutions for Cookie Recipes 

As a youngster, my favorite sweet treats were cookies, although not necessarily from healthy cookie recipes. Whether it was Mom’s warm cookies straight from the baking sheet or cookies plucked from my grandmother’s brightly painted cookie jar, I could never get enough of those delectable delights. After school, at break time, with a cup of tea as I read a book, was there ever a time cookies weren’t in order? Although my mom always frowned on cookies right before dinner, I never saw the harm. In fact, I saw no downside to cookies at all until the onset of middle age. As my husband and I entered our 40s, we discovered an unpleasant truth. While our cookie consumption remained the same through our 20s and 30s, our waistlines only grew. What’s a cookie lover to do?

Rather than give up cookies altogether, I decided to decrease the amount of empty calories my recipes contained and increase their nutritional value at the same time. The result is five recipes, inspired by Betty Crocker, that allow my husband and me to continue to indulge in a favorite treat.

The color and texture are different with these cookies, but the taste is as good as ever. My recipes call for whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Many people prefer the less gluten content of whole-wheat pastry flour when making cookies, cakes and muffins. I, however, use whole-wheat bread flour for my cookies as well. The choice is up to you.

If your family balks at the differences in color or texture, begin by using half whole-wheat and half all-purpose flour in the recipes. Each time you prepare the recipe, increase the ratio of whole-wheat flour. You’ll have your family asking for 100 percent whole-wheat cookies in no time. These recipes make about two dozen cookies per batch. The recipes easily can be doubled. 

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

A perennial favorite, these cookies are perfect with a glass of cold milk. At the risk of messing with perfection, this recipe uses whole-wheat flour.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla
1 egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces chocolate chips (half a bag)

Heat oven to 375°F. Mix together brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg. Add whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Yields about 2 dozen cookies.

GINGERSNAPS

Gingersnaps remind me of crisp autumn days. The spices make the house smell wonderful when baking. This whole-wheat version also includes health-boosting wheat germ.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375°F. Mix together brown sugar, butter, molasses and egg. Add flour, wheat germ, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until set. Yields about 2 dozen cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Peanut butter cookies were always a favorite after-school snack. I’ve enjoyed many a peanut butter cookie while doing homework. This recipe varies from the cookie of my childhood in its use of whole-wheat flour and nonfat dry milk.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375°F. Mix together brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and egg. Add whole-wheat flour, dry milk, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart onto cookie sheet. Press crisscross pattern into dough with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Yields about 2 dozen cookies.

SNICKERDOODLES

This cookie can bring a smile to the face of young and old alike just by its name. The use of whole-wheat flour and ground flaxseed give you even more to smile about.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 375°F. Mix together brown sugar, butter and egg. Add whole-wheat flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Shape into 1-inch balls. Mix sugar and cinnamon. Roll dough balls in mixture and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Yields about 2 dozen cookies.

OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

I’ve always thought oatmeal raisin cookies to be fairly healthy just as they are. With the addition of whole-wheat flour and wheat bran a good thing becomes even better. This recipe substitutes dried cranberries for the raisins, but stick with raisins if you prefer.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla
1 egg
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Heat oven to 375°F. Mix together brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg. Add whole-wheat flour, oats, wheat bran, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and dried cranberries. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Yields about 2 dozen cookies.

Linda Rountree Grove lives with her husband, farm dog, barn cats, laying hens and honeybees on a centennial farm in Missouri. She estimates she ate more than 80 cookies in the creation of this article. She is a first-time GRIT contributor.