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Can I do a *whole* year of healthy cookies? The Saga of the Cookie of the Month Club...

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One year, I had a brilliant ;-) idea to do a cookie of the month club for a whole year for my husband's grandma, and she loved it! I had fun with it, but it definitely was more work than I had originally intended it to be! Anyway, since then, my husband's grandma has had some health problems and her doctor has advised her to not eat sweets anymore! (I couldn't survive!) She has mentioned to my mother-in-law that she would really love it if she got cookies again this year for Christmas... hint! hint! I would really like to do this again for her because she looks forward to those cookies arriving once a month so much, but I'm not sure I can do a whole year of healthy cookies... I'm not even sure if I have *a* healthy cookie recipe in my repertoire!! So, can it be done? Do you have recipes that would work for this occasion?

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  1. My contribution to this healthy cookie question is the Breakfast Bean Cookie. I copied the recipe here, look at the end of this:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
    If you are interested, I'm pretty sure I have the nutritional breakdown of this recipe at home.

    1. Cookie of the month--what a great idea! Will she eat sugar substitutes? I personally detest splenda, but you can use it in baked goods with decent results.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        I don't think she really cares, as long as they taste good! I don't even think she really cares about the sugar and I'm betting she doesn't follow any sort of a diet, but I just don't want to be a contributor at this point. I'm not even sure on what exactly her diet should entail, but I figured if I could lean more towards the healthy end of the spectrum, then that would be a good thing. Splenda is a good idea, especially if it does bake up well.

      2. I think I'd head to the library and look at some diabetic cookbooks (or websites) , if not for the recipes themselves, for inspiration. Also, perhaps offering "Dessert of the Month" would free you up a bit from having to create 12 different delicious cookies that fit the bill.
        How about fruit and/or nut clusters quickly dipped in dark chocolate or something...probably still to much sugar, though. hmmm.

        I hope I have a granddaughter as thoughtful as you someday.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ellaj

          Thank you... that's sweet of you to say... I stress myself out sometimes over finding the "perfect" gifts, but the Cookie of the Month club was a real winner! Everytime she would hear something at the door, she would make her boyfriend get up to see if it was the UPS man with her cookies! :-)

          You reminded me of Eating Well's website which I always seem to forget about... it looks like they have some good options!

        2. What a great idea!! Would you mind if I asked what your preferred method of mailing is? My grandmother would LOVE this! Thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. re: eriberri

            I usually ship UPS ground which gets it there the next day... it can be a little pricey, but I figure I would have spent that on a present anyway and this way the cost is spread out. (I don't know if this is the best way to do it, but I like the lady that works at the UPS by me and she always asks me about what kind of cookie I made this month, etc.) I bought boxes like these http://www.veripack.com/Product/dept.... and I decorate them according to the season and usually pack the cookies in cellophane bags with some kind of cushioning as well.

          2. Oh, I would try Cooking Light magazine for cookie recipes, they often have low(er) fat/sodium cookies :-)

            1. It would be SO much fun if you came up with 12 healthy cookie recipes, one for each month, and posted them here!
              By healthy, I understand lower fat, lower sugar, more protein, more fiber, more healthy nutrients (flax seeds come to mind).
              btw, the bean cookies are really good, in spite of there being beans in them (you can't taste them in the finished product). I've made them several times and everyone loves them. I feel I have to write this as I am aware that it's an unusual ingredient-trust me, they're good!

              2 Replies
              1. re: morebubbles

                The beans freak me out a little bit, but I will certainly try them! I'll probably test them out on my husband's co-workers first!

                1. re: Katie Nell

                  Test them out! :) No one will guess the 'secret'ingredient.
                  The first time I made them, I didn't grind the oatmeal to a powder (they ended up half powdered, half regular) and it's the preferred way after trying them both ways, more of an oatmeal 'bite'. That's the only change in the recipe. I'm sure everyone will enjoy. They store well in an airtight container.

              2. My mother makes a german almond cookie every year for christmas (sort of a german version of amaretti cookies shaped like stars). She makes a dough out of ground almonds, eggwhites, powdered sugar, baking powder and soda, etc and then rolls it out and cuts into star shapes and tops with a little dot of icing. I can have her send me the recipe if you're interested. They still use sugar but there's no flour and minimal fat. They're also addictive; I eat them like popcorn at Christmas time!

                2 Replies
                1. re: LAcupcake

                  That sounds great... if you have the time, I'd appreciate the recipe!

                  Through researching this project, I'm realizing I know next to nothing about nutrition... yikes!

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    She's on vacation (aloha!) this week but I'll get it from her when she returns. They really are one of my favorite holiday cookies, so it will be fun to pass them on!

                2. King Arthur has a whole NEW Whole Grain baking cookbook that has lots of cookie recipes (And general great whole grain) recipes in it! :)

                  --Dommy!

                  1. I've posted my version of the Kripalu Cookbook's Maple-Oatmeal cookies before. They're really yummy. You can use either almond or peanut butter and I add chocolate chips, but if you're trying not to add that sort of thing, they're also delicious with raisins. Since the link to the page my last posting was on had so many other replies, I just pasted it in below:
                    Try these. They're my adaptation from the Kripalu Cookbook. I love them. The beauty is that you can basically just use whatever you have on hand as long as you sorta stick to the recipe and they STILL taste good! So easy! I'm not sure how many this makes, but generally I scoop out about a TBS worth of dough. Sometimes I flatten them out, they cook faster and are crisper. These harden a bit overnight into crunchy.

                    2tbs almond butter (or PB if you only have that)
                    1/4c canola oil (but you can use even less and still come out terrific)
                    1/3c. rice syrup
                    1/3c maple syrup
                    3tbs roasted, chopped almonds
                    Mix this.

                    1/3c whole wheat pastry flour
                    1/3c flour (i use white whole wheat, but doesn't really matter)
                    ~1c oats. add more if the batter seems too loose.
                    Blend.
                    stir in chocolate chips and raisins to taste.

                    350F for the oven. They bake for about 10min, but sometimes more. just keep an eye on them...

                    Hope you like these!

                    1. What a great idea! You can make any recipe healthier by changing the flour, at least half to whole wheat and then using applesauce (I do half) for the oil/butter. With the applesauce, you can the cut sugar because it adds some sweetness. I've used this site for vegan recipes (cuts out saturated fat from butter). Some of the recipes take longer, like the vegan brownies, but they're good. I use half whole wheat and half white flour (I just bought white whole wheat flour from Whole Foods to see how it is--have never seen it before). The test part is I brought the vegan brownies to my in-laws who eat nothing healthy and they all oved them!

                      http://www.theppk.com/recipes/

                      1. Haven't tried these Farmland Flax Cookies, but they look good:
                        http://canadianliving.com/CanadianLiv...
                        You can read up on the nutritional value of flax (omega-3, etc) here: (or in any number of sites
                        )http://www.flaxcouncil.ca/english/ind...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: morebubbles

                          It doesn't say to grind the flax, but you probably should, right? On the Flax Council website, it says that if left whole, the flax will just pass through your digestive system.

                        2. I grind my flax seeds in a coffee grinder, but stop short of grinding all of them to a powder (some remain half-ground or whole). It is better for you ground, quite right. I try to add ground flax seeds (a tablespoon maybe) to baked goods (when I remember).

                          1. It might be worth it to try to track down this cookbook:
                            http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Well-Des...

                            I have a couple of other Eating Well Cookbooks and they provide a great balance of healthy recipes with no frankenfood. There's a CC cookie recipe in one of the cookbooks I have that uses whole wheat flour and ground oatmeal, but real butter.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Amuse Bouches

                              I just ordered it used for a little under $5.00! Thanks! Just another excuse to get yet another cookbook... oh well! ;-)

                              I researched quite a bit yesterday on healthy baking and I think you and everyone else are right... use moderation and some subbing of ingredients here and there... some of the "healthy" recipes are truly frightening with ingredients I've never even heard of!

                            2. Real butter is not a problem. I've read it's better to just reduce the amount of butter rather than substitute it with something else (esp. for cookies). Better crispness/flavor.

                              1. I'm not known for my healthy cookies, so I have no recipe to offer you. I just wanted to say what a great idea this is and that your grandmother is very lucky!

                                Well, I will say that I think that cookies w/ fruit (dried or fresh), nuts, and grains seem relatively healthy to me. Would be fun to go seasonal like using figs, apricots, etc. Sub in some applesauce or mashed banana for fat. Hope you post about your cookie of the month as you go along!!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                  I agree... I found a recipe on Eating Well for Oatmeal Apricot Bars that I think she will really like. I'm hoping to post about my cookies each month, and hopefully I will remember to take pictures!!

                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                    It would be great if you posted results, I need to re-direct my baking energies into healthier versions!

                                2. DO you know why she has been advised to eat less sweets? If it is diabetes for instance, avoiding carbs in general is a problem as well as saturated fats. My father that is diabetic uses splenda for baking (there is a blend one, some sugar and some slenda) in his baking and says it works just fine. It is important for diabetes because even though we may see syrups and dried fruit as healthier for the glycemic response the body still looks for insulin (the glycemic indexes are not always much lower than sugar).

                                  Because of a wheat allergy we use a lot of alternative flours like bean flour or sorghum, which are more healthy and don't taste bad at all - just so you don't freak out at bean cookies!

                                  I think it is perfectly doable and a wonderful idea and second the Eating Well recommendation. I like their stuff in general. If she is diabetic I can check with my father to see if he has any good diabetic friendly recipes.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jsaimd

                                    No... I think she's just been told to eat healthier because I know that she doesn't really keep a healthy/ well-balanced diet, and I think her biggest downfall is probably the sweets.

                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                      If this is the case I am thinking of cookies that have fruit or veg in them - they will more likely be soft/cakey type cookies, like pumpkin, carrot or apple. Also recipes using some portion whole wheat pastry flour and oats (whole and blended). Add nuts for their healthy-fat properties.

                                  2. How about Walnut Cookies?
                                    containing walnuts, which is heart-healthy and if it's diabetes to worry about, then you have a good balance of protein and carbs...
                                    I originaly got this recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey R. Shere, an excellent recipe as is, but then I lightend it up with some whole wheat flour and less butter:

                                    1 c. (4 oz.) wanuts (toasted in the oven, 8 min.? 350?... watch them carefully so they do not burn!)
                                    -then try to get off some of that papery stuff by rubbing them around in a damp kitchen towel, but don't make yourself crazy.

                                    Put them in a food processor and whirl with...
                                    4 Tbsp unsalted butter
                                    4 Tbsp salted butter (or if you're using unsated add a tsp. of salt - a little salt is nice with walnuts)
                                    1/4 c. brown sugar
                                    1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
                                    2/3 c. reg flour
                                    1/3 c. whole wheat flour

                                    Dropped by teaspoons there should be 5 or 6 dozen cookies. They also make great bar cookies with apples on top.

                                    1. I have the same concerns with my grandparents when I make cookies for them. They have cholesterol issues, but I can use sugar.

                                      Here are some cookies that pass the flavor and cholesterol test:
                                      1) meringues (just egg whites and sugar)
                                      2) anything made mainly with good chocolate. Chocolate fats are nut fats, i.e. they have no cholesterol. I experimented with brownies made with things like pureed cottage cheese instead of butter with limited success; if you add enough good quality chocolate it hides some sins.
                                      3) BOURBON BALLS--These were a big hit. I used Paul Newman vanilla cookies (i.e. organic "healthy" nilla wafers) as the base, then the rest is just sugar, cocoa, and booze. Mine didn't really hold their form well, but that sin was overlooked due to the good quality bourbon.

                                      1. I've made this spice cookie using half spelt flour and half kamut flour instead of the regular flour caled for in the recipe and they were delicious! (Did not ice them, & they were good.) Molasses is high in iron too.
                                        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                                        1. I once had (lost in a move, I think) a cookbook called "Sweet and sugarfree" which contained lots of recipes fruit-sweetened deserts. Don't recall how many were cookies (and therefore shippable) but you could check it out.

                                          1. Since so many people were interested, I thought I'd post what the cookies of the month were two years ago. I'm happy to post the recipes if you would like! I had started with a specific plan to do really seasonal cookies, but then I got a little lazy and it kind of morphed into whatever I had on hand or felt like making or uhhh... lots of chocolate! ;-) I'm hoping to be more on top of things this year! I also did this for my little brother... if he had gone away to college (he stayed at home this year), I was going to change it into a meal of the month membership. I did a baker's dozen of the months instead of the cookies, so they got 13 months of cookies! Obviously, none of these are healthy in any way, shape, or form!

                                            December: Raspberry Jam Thumbprints (this seems to be everyone's favorite!)
                                            January: Almond Snowflake Sugar Cookies
                                            February: Chocolate Brownie Cookies (I've since moved on to a far superior recipe)
                                            March: Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cookies (these have everything in them, including pieces of ice cream cones!)
                                            April: Peanut Butter Cookies (grandma's favorite)
                                            May: Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies (I had really wanted to do a Blueberry Lavendar cookie this month, but found out grandma didn't like blueberries!)
                                            June: Snickerdoodles
                                            July: No-Bake Cookies (my brother's all-time favorite)
                                            August: Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies (my nostalgic favorite)
                                            September: I can't remember this one for some reason, maybe a molasses cookie?
                                            October: Pumpkin Cookies
                                            November: Sugar and Spice Cookies
                                            December: Cream Sandwich Cookies (these are really my favorite cookie I've ever made and are not good for you AT ALL, but are easily made into a sugarfree cookie!)

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Katie Nell

                                              I hate to ask this, Katie, but can you post or link to the new, improved chocolate brownie cookie recipe and the no-bake cookie recipe? I was tempted to ask for all of them, but those two looked especially tempting to me!

                                              Also, with all your experience, is there a cookie cookbook you recommend?

                                              1. re: Kagey

                                                Okay, again, these are *not* healthy versions of cookies! These are the real deal!

                                                The Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies are paraphrased from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I really haven't found an all cookie cookbook that I like, but I have made a lot of the cookies from the Baking Handbook and have loved all of them. I also use a lot of Martha recipes in general. Otherwise, the rest probably come from Epicurious, Food Network, or my family. The No-Bake Cookies were probably made once a week when I was in high school, because they are so easy, simple, and just plain good!

                                                Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies

                                                9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into 1⁄4-inch chunks
                                                3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
                                                6 T. unsalted butter
                                                1 cup sugar
                                                3 large eggs
                                                1⁄2 t. vanilla
                                                1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
                                                1⁄4 t. salt
                                                3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

                                                In a double boiler, melt 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, the unsweetened chocolate, and the butter together. Mix together until all the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let mixture cool for approx. 5 minutes. Beat chocolate mixture and sugar together for about 3 minutes. Add eggs and beat to combine. Mix in vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Stir in remaining semi-sweet chocolate and the nuts, if you are using the nuts. Shape dough into walnut-sized balls and place on parchment covered baking sheet. Bake at 350 until edges are done but middle is still a little soft, about 9 to 11 minutes.

                                                No-Bake Cookies

                                                2 cups sugar
                                                3 T. cocoa
                                                1⁄2 cup milk
                                                1⁄2 cup butter
                                                Pinch salt
                                                1⁄2 cup peanut butter
                                                1 t. vanilla
                                                3 cups oats

                                                Mix butter, sugar, milk, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, remove from stove, and add peanut butter, vanilla, and oats. Drop by tablespoonfuls on waxed paper and let cool to set up.

                                              2. re: Katie Nell

                                                I'd like to March recipe (I may leave out to toffee...). Thanks!
                                                the blueberry lavender sounds intriguing too. Oh, and the pumpkin cookie recipe!

                                                1. re: morebubbles

                                                  My husband's grandma sent the toffee cookie recipe to me in the mail, so I took that as a hint and made them! They could also be called "Everything but the Kitchen Sink" cookies!

                                                  Chocolate Coffee Toffee Oatmeal Cookies

                                                  1⁄4 cup boiling water
                                                  1⁄2 to 1 t. instant coffee powder
                                                  1 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
                                                  1 cup butter
                                                  1 egg
                                                  1 1⁄2 t. vanilla
                                                  3 cups oats
                                                  1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
                                                  3⁄4 t. salt
                                                  1⁄2 t. baking soda
                                                  1 pckg. (8 oz.) toffee bits
                                                  1 1⁄2 cups chocolate chips
                                                  1 cup coarsely crumbled sugar cones (about 5 cones)

                                                  Dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water and set aside to let cool. Beat sugar and butter until creamy, add eggs, and beat well. Mix in coffee and vanilla. Combine the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda and gradually add this to the sugar and butter mixture, beating well. Stir in the toffee bits, chocolate chips, and sugar cones. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes at 350°, just until cookies are golden.

                                                  For the pumpkin cookies, I can't remember why, but the browned butter icing didn't work for me, but I think it sounds good in theory... I'm not sure what went wrong? At any rate, I improvised and used apple cider and powdered sugar to make a glaze, probably added a little cinnamon too, and that was really good!

                                                  Pumpkin Cookies

                                                  3/4 cup butter
                                                  1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
                                                  2 eggs
                                                  1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
                                                  1 teaspoon vanilla
                                                  2 cups all-purpose flour
                                                  1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
                                                  1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
                                                  1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                                                  1 teaspoon baking powder
                                                  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                                                  1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
                                                  Browned Butter Icing

                                                  Cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs, pumpkin purée, and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add to the pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in chopped pecans or other nuts. Drop cookie dough but tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool cookies and spread with browned butter icing.

                                                  Browned Butter Icing
                                                  6 tablespoons butter
                                                  2 cups confectioners' sugar, unsifted
                                                  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                  3 to 4 tablespoons milk, or enough for spreading consistency
                                                  chopped pecans or other nuts
                                                  Brown butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat; remove from heat. Blend in confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat in milk to desired spreading consistency. Frost the Pumpkin cookies and sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired.

                                                  I'll have to search for the blueberry lavendar ones this weekend; I can't remember where I found those!

                                                2. re: Katie Nell

                                                  I remembered September... Chewy Ginger Chocolate Cookies, also from Martha.

                                                3. I like this recipe for Pure Fruit Cookies. I don't think it keeps as well as a traditional cookie. I usually store them in the fridge and freeze the extras.

                                                  http://cookierecipes101.com/purefruit...

                                                  1. I've got a recipe for super healthy and tasty oatmeal cookies. Don't be thrown off by the ingredients; they are absolutely delicious and they make a perfect, filling snack.

                                                    Mix:
                                                    2 cups old fashioned oats (not the quick cooking oats)
                                                    1 cup steel cut oats
                                                    1 1⁄2 cups whole wheat or oat flour
                                                    3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
                                                    3⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
                                                    sprinkle of salt
                                                    handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
                                                    handful of raisins, chopped prune or date, or dried cranberries
                                                    handful of slivered almonds or chopped walnuts
                                                    handful of wheat germ(optional)
                                                    handful of flaxseed meal

                                                    Mix:
                                                    1 egg
                                                    3⁄4 cup real maple syrup (honey can be partially or all substituted for this)
                                                    3⁄4 cup plain applesauce
                                                    3⁄4 cup olive or coconut oil
                                                    1 teaspoon vanilla
                                                    3⁄4 to 1 cup of canned pumpkin
                                                    1 large scoop of peanut or almond butter

                                                    Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix. The batter will be wicked stiff. Scoop the batter with a spoon onto a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or you could grease the sheet). Bake at 375 for 15-25 minutes.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: sryder

                                                      This sounds very good to me, thanks for posting it. I will definitely make it.

                                                      1. re: sryder

                                                        These sound great - I was going to post looking for an oil oatmeal cookie, I figure it would be "heart healthy" for DH and his cholesterol. I wonder about the texture though, are they totally soft and cakey (not the end of the world), or do they have some chewy goodness like a regular oatmeal cookie?

                                                      2. they're pretty thick and tend to be somewhat cakey, but if you use more regular oats than steelcut oats they tend to be chewier.