By: Kristen Johnson, On Target Living's Chief Nutrition Officer & Registered Dietitian
The holidays are a time to be fully present and enjoy the special moments with family, friends, and the things you love-- even if that means those delicious sugar cookies. Instead of "saying no" to your favorite holiday treats, how about saying "heck yes!"
The common mistake people make is that they start to sacrifice the things they love for better health. Over time, they may find that this plan isn't enjoyable or sustainable. As a Dietitian, I believe that there is so much more to food than just eating to lose weight or be healthy. Of course it's important, but it goes so much deeper. So much of food is social and food allows us to connect, share, and build stronger relationships. In my opinion, homemade meals are the best way to show the people you care about just how much you love them. Some of my most memorable moments are spent around my kitchen table with a home-cooked meal (and maybe a bottle of wine).
"We don't remember the things we buy, but we remember the meals we eat and whom we eat them with!"
The important thing to remember is that it's okay to have your favorite things, being mindful of how much and how often you indulge. It is so much more rewarding and pleasurable to have those holiday cookies once a year, than every single day don't you think? Make every experience count by planning ahead for these special moments.
My advice is to not give anything up this year, just make everything better! Why not try to make those holiday cookies you love healthier and so much more worth it? The holidays come once a year and are meant to be enjoyed in every way. Enjoy this healthier version of holiday sugar cookies below by swapping out some staple ingredients for healthier options. Think about how you can make every meal and every moment just a little bit better!
Makes About 20 Cookies
- 2 ¾ cup organic white- whole wheat flour (King Arthur Brand)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon non-aluminum baking soda
- 1 ½ cups sugar (Swap for organic coconut sugar)*
- 1 stick organic grass- fed butter (Swap for ¾ cup virgin coconut oil)
- 2 large organic free-range eggs
- 1 teaspoon organic 100% pure vanilla extract
Optional Cookie Add-Ins
- Lemon juice and zest with lemon sugar*
- Oatmeal Raisin
- Organic Sprinkles (Made with vegetable/fruit- based food coloring)
In a medium bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter/oil. Blend in eggs, one at a time then add vanilla. Add flour mixture, one cup at a time, blending after each addition, until flour is incorporated.
If making different varieties, add preferred ingredients at this stage. If just making regular sugar cookies, leave as is.
Refrigerate dough for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove dough from refrigerator and use a cookie scoop to form dough into a 2- inch ball and place on non-greased/nonstick cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a glass, press down lightly on each ball of dough until cookie is about ½ inch thick. (Use flour if dough starts to stick to bottom of glass).
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes and let cool before frosting.
*If using coconut sugar, cookies will be browner in color. Coconut sugar looks similar to brown sugar and provides a very moist finish in baked goods.
*Prepare Lemon Sugar by blending ½ cup sugar with 1 teaspoon lemon zest in a small food processor. Pulse several times until the lemon zest is incorporated into the sugar. After you refrigerator the lemon juice/lemon zest dough, form dough into 2- inch balls and roll in lemon sugar. Place on non-greased/nonstick cookie sheet and use the bottom of a glass to press down lightly on each ball of dough until cookie is about ½ inch thick.
Coconut Butter Frosting
Makes 2 Cups of Frosting
- ½ cup virgin coconut oil, softened
- ¼ cup coconut manna (coconut butter), softened
- 1 (16 ounce) package of organic powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon organic 100% pure vanilla extract
- ½ to 1 cup almond milk
To soften coconut oil and coconut manna, add to a small saucepot and heat over low heat for 1-2 minutes.
Combine coconut oil, coconut manna, 1 cup of powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl or mixer. If using a large bowl, blend mixture with a handheld beater until well combined.
While beater is running, add powdered sugar and milk alternately, ¼ cup at a time until remainder of powdered sugar is used and frosting is desired consistency. Use more milk for a thinner frosting or icing consistency.
*Use vegetable/fruit- based food coloring (from beets, carrots, and blueberries) to color frosting if desired.
Use immediately or place frosting in refrigerator in an airtight container. If using refrigerated frosting, let soften at room temperature for 1 hour before using. Frosting will last in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or in freezer for 2-3 months.