Holiday Cookie Recipe Makeovers

Recipes to make the season of sweets a little bit healthier.

| December 20th, 2013
Holiday Cookie Recipe Makeovers

It’s no secret that the holidays are notorious for expanding your waistline. One of the biggest culprits: all of those delicious sweets! But the truth is, your weight doesn’t have to succumb to the sugar-filled and calorie-laden treats. Making smart ingredient swaps can help you still enjoy your holiday favorites—minus the morning-after guilt.

We gave three favorite baked goods a healthy makeover just in time for the holidays:  

Oatmeal Cookies

You don’t need butter and white sugar to make soft and delicious cookies. Instead, use ripened fruit (such as bananas) and oil for a healthy, sweet baking combination, suggests YouBeauty Culinary Expert and chef Jim Perko.

Better-for-you recipe

Makes 36 cookies

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup walnuts—toasted, chopped
  • ¼ cup pecans—toasted, chopped
  • ¼ cup prunes—dried, pitted, no sugar added, chopped
  • 1 cup raisins—yellow or red
  • 2 cup plain, old fashioned oatmeal

QUIZ: Are You Eating For Your Beauty?


In a large mixing bowl, add and mash bananas with hand masher, then combine and mix in canola oil, vanilla, walnuts, pecans, prunes and raisins. Add oatmeal and mix all ingredients together until well mixed. Using a 1-ounce scoop, measure and drop on to parchment-covered cookie sheet. Slightly push down with fingers to lightly flatten. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes. Remove, let cool and serve. 

Nutrition (per cookie):

  • 80 calories
  • 0 mg sodium
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 5 g sugar

Recipe developed by and courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic

Chocolate Bark

This tasty dessert is just what it sounds like: a slab of regular chocolate and calories. Instead of making the usual sugar-filled treat, use dark chocolate to increase your intake of beauty-boosting antioxidants called flavanols and mix in toasted nuts for some healthy fats, recommends Perko.

Better-for-you recipe

Makes 35 servings; ½ ounce serving size

  • 10 ounces dark chocolate—70 percent cocoa bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • ½ cup toasted walnut pieces
  • ½ cup toasted pecan pieces
  • ½ cup toasted almond slices


Combine chocolate and espresso powder. Place over a double boiler, heating on a low flame while stirring until chocolate is ¾ melted. Then remove from heat and stir until smooth. Next, mix in the toasted nuts. Spread mixture on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Chill until set (about 30 minutes). Break into pieces and serve.

Nutrition (per serving):

  • 70 calories
  • 15 mg sodium
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 4 g sugar

Recipe developed by and courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic

COLUMN: The Best Foods For Healthy Hair

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