One of the biggest challenges of the holiday season may just be fighting the temptation to devour all of those beautiful holiday cookies that seem to pop up everywhere. Since most holiday cookies are packed full of added sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats, overdoing them can lead to an unhealthy elevation in blood glucose levels and body weight. So what’s a cookie lover to do?
By making a few minor adjustments to your routine and your recipes you too can enjoy the sweet treats surrounding you this holiday season.
1. Reduce the amount of added sugar.
Holiday cookies are problematic for people with diabetes because of the large amount of added sugar. The good news is that it’s possible to reduce the overall sugar content of a cookie while maintaining it’s delicious taste and texture with some simple adjustments.
You can cut sugar out entirely and replace it instead with a natural sweetener alternative such as agave nectar. Agave is one and a half times sweeter than sugar with a lower glycemic index value, allowing you to sweeten the recipe with less sweetener, which may provide a carbohydrate savings to help improve blood glucose control. You may also opt to reduce some of all of the sugar in a recipe with a low calorie or no calorie sweetener such as stevia. Pureed fruit like applesauce, mashed banana, or medjool dates can also be added to a recipe to boost moisture and sweetness while reducing the need for added sugar.
Even if you reduce the added sugar in your cookies, the refined flour can also cause spikes in blood glucose levels. To prevent this, try swapping refined flour with whole grain alternatives. Experiment by swapping half or all of the white flour with options such as quinoa flour, whole-wheat flour, rolled oats, or even almond flour. Each of these whole grain flours can help to improve the nutrient content of the cookie, boost the amount of fiber and protein, and help you to better manage blood glucose levels.
3. Let nature satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fight your inner cookie monster with a few tips to trick If it seems like you run into sugary sweets everywhere you turn, decrease the temptation by changing up your environment. Research has found that when sweets are available within arms reach and in a clear bowl, individuals are more inclined to eat them . To cut down on impulse eating, try placing holiday sweets in opaque colored bowls and keeping them out of arms reach. Place healthier options such as fresh or freeze-dried fruit, which contain no added sugar, nearby to satisfy a sweet tooth with a nutrient rich option. And most importantly, give yourself a leg up on resisting temptation by preventing excessive hunger. The holidays can be hectic but skipping meals is not a recommended time-saving method. When you’re ravenous with hunger you’ll have less will power and may be more likely to reach for whatever is in sight. To prevent this, keep healthy filling options such as a small bag of nuts or a low fat string cheese with you throughout the day, so if hunger strikes, you don’t have to go far for a healthy option.
Cookie Makeover Recipe
Whip up a batch of one of my personal favorites. These cookies are healthy and delicious. Plus, you'll have fun taking credit for being the baking genius behind a treat your guests don't have to feel guitly about enjoying.
½ cup Quinoa, prepared
¾ cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
1 large egg
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup oat flour
¼ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place peanut butter in the microwave on high for 30 seconds to melt and thin. Whisk together egg, yogurt, agave and peanut butter. Add in dry ingredients to create a batter. Add in chocolate chips and mix evenly.
Place 1 Tbs drops of batter onto a lightly greased cooking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until cookies are light brown in color and edges are firm. Makes approximately 32 servings. Enjoy!
NUTRITION per serving (makes 32 servings)
40 calories, 2 grams protein, 6 grams carbs, 1 grams fat