Brutti Ma Buoni. Photo by Kristina Larson
It’s holiday baking time, whether for cookie swaps, holiday gifts or treats to bring to a party.
With a growing number of family and friends being mindful of sugar, carbs, gluten or just overall wellness, we’re likely to be around folks who will be grateful for sweets they don’t have to say no to, and ecstatic that these treats also taste great.
I posed a challenge to Ochsner’s Eat Fit team to give their favorite cookies a holiday makeover. The only caveat: They must be nutritious and delicious enough to proudly bring to a cookie swap or give as a holiday gift.
Here are three that they shared. Now I’m hoping I’m on their gift list this year!
Photo by Nina Deuschle
Eat Fit NOLA Ambassador Nina Deuschle was looking for a healthier version of the pumpkin spice gingerbread cookies that her mom used to make each holiday, so she adapted this recipe from food blogger Clean Eats by Tay.
The result: a soft-baked pumpkin chai spice cookie that’s gluten-free and grain-free, with no sugar added. Most of these are made with plant-based low or no-calorie sweeteners, such as Swerve or Truvia.
Any type of nut or seed butter can be used in place of cashew butter. Get creative with any add-ins and toppings: Nina opted for stevia-sweetened chocolate chunks. A thin drizzle of white chocolate after they cool would be pretty incredible too.
Pumpkin Chai Spice Cookies
Makes 12 servings
2/3 cup cashew butter
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup plant-based low or no-calorie sweetener, granular
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch black pepper
1/2 cup large chocolate chunks, at least 70 percent cocoa (Deuschle uses Lily’s Stevia Sweetened Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all ingredients except chocolate chunks and sea salt in a mixing bowl. Place heaping tablespoons of batter onto baking sheet. Place chocolate chunks onto top of each cookie, pressing down slightly.
Bake for 10-13 minutes, until they start to brown. Cool on a rack.
Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
Per serving: 100 calories, 8 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 110 mg sodium, 10 grams carbohydrate (4 grams net carbs), 2 grams fiber, 0 sugar, 3 grams protein.
Photo by Kristina Larson
Local artist (and Eat Fit ambassador) Kristina Larson remade these decadent little treats with no white flour and no added sugar, and we are beyond thrilled that they are just as good, if not even a little denser and richer.
These are best if made one day ahead.
Special note: Before beginning, make sure to freeze the chocolate chips. Otherwise they will melt while baking and the cookies will not have chunks of chocolate.
Brutti Ma Buoni
Makes 80 two-bite servings
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup unsweetened chocolate, chopped (100 percent cocoa)
2-1/4 cup unsweetened chocolate, chopped (at least 70 percent cocoa)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups plant-based low or no-calorie sweetener, granular
1/4 cup espresso
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups Lily’s stevia-sweetened chocolate chips, frozen
1/2 cup plant-based low or no-calorie sweetener, confectioner’s
Sift both flours, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
Melt both varieties of unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler, using care not to burn chocolate once it is melted. Whisk in butter.
In another bowl whisk together eggs and granular sweetener until mixture becomes very thick and pale in color, approximately 6-8 minutes. Slowly add in melted chocolate, scraping bowl as you go. Add flour, baking powder and salt mixture and scrape bowl again. Add espresso and vanilla extract.
Add frozen Lilly’s chocolate chips and mix until combined. Do not overmix or the mixture will get too crumbly. Spread mixture onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover lightly and allow to rest overnight in refrigerator.
The next day, roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Press gently to flatten. Place cookies in freezer for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Just before baking, roll batter in confectioner’s sweetener, then place on baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are slightly puffed and fine lines or cracks appear.
Allow cookies to cool on parchment paper. Sprinkle with additional confectioner’s sweetener, if desired, before serving.
Per serving: 50 calories, 4 grams fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat, 55 mg sodium, 9 grams carbohydrate (2 grams net carbs) 1 gram fiber, less than 1 gram sugar, 0.5 grams protein.
Photo by Amy Davis
The only way this cookie recipe could be any simpler is if we simply bought the cookies instead.
Created by Amy Davis, registered dietitian for Swerve Sweetener (and former Eat Fit ambassador), these cookies can be made with creamy or chunky peanut butter or almond butter. SunButter sunflower seed butter can work if cookies need to be entirely peanut-free and nut-free (some schools have this policy in place).
3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 15 servings
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup Swerve, granular
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well-combined.
Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form 15 one-inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Use a fork to create a crisscross pattern on the top.
Bake for 10-13 minutes until tops are golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet.
Per serving: 110 calories, 9 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 75 mg sodium, 10 grams carbohydrate (2 grams net carbs), 1 gram fiber, 2 grams sugar, 5 grams protein.