The holiday season is often called “the most wonderful time of the year” and for good reason. From spending more time with family and friends to sitting by a cozy fire, the holidays are a warm and wonderful time ripe with traditions — many of them edible!
While celebrating the holidays is often closely associated with eating high-calorie food and lots of it, that doesn’t have to be the case. Many assume that holiday gain is inevitable and throw in the hypothetical towel on their holiday eating habits as a result. But a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the average weight gain during the holiday season is only eight-tenths of a pound. That means that even small dietary changes during this time could stave off holiday weight gain all together. Plus, there’s so much more to health than weight alone. By swapping out a few unhealthy ingredients for healthier options, you can be sure that you’re providing your body with the nutrients it needs while still enjoying your holiday favorites.
Holiday cookies, for example, are an all-time favorite holiday treat. Often brightly colored, varied in size and shape, and piled high on a platter, you’ll find cookies at most holiday gatherings. Unfortunately, holiday cookies are generally packed with unhealthy fats and loads of refined sugars that can derail even the healthiest of diets. For example, most traditional cookies use butter as a main ingredient, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes is almost 50 percent saturated fat by weight — and the American Heart Association recommends limiting sat fat as much as possible. There are a number of healthier fats (think avocado and olive oils and nut butter) which can be used in place of butter to improve the overall healthfulness of a recipe.
Here are some simple recipes for five festive, healthier cookies to enjoy this holiday season.