Traditional to Healthy Holiday Recipe Swap: Sugar Cookies

Sprinkles, frosting, drizzle, these festively scrumptious buttery treats have earned their spot in the holiday.

Amid our SportPort team, we’ve got a variety of food preferences. We have traditionalists who prefer everything with all the classic ingredients. We have those who are health conscious and like to add a little more nutrition where they can while reducing ingredients that may not be as healthy, and also meeting their calorie goals. And then we even have vegan eaters who prefer to avoid all animal products in their diet. For these reasons, we’re sharing with you a few recipe swaps, from (or say, starting with??) traditional ingredients, to a healthier version that is slightly less in fat and white sugar, while adding alternative ingredients, as well as a vegan recipe that adds some healthy ingredients while taking away the animal products. With the help of the MyFitnessPal Recipe Calculator, we’ve provided you with nutrition information at the end of each recipe, however, serving size nutrition will vary based on the size of your cookies, each batch makes approximately 36 cookies.

Recipe Swaps: What We Change to Make Our Recipes Healthier

  • Sugar - We need sugar in our diets to survive! Lucky for us, it’s not hard to find, as carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in the body and most us don’t seem to have a problem getting enough of those! So feel free to eat your cookies the way you choose, but it may be helpful to know that although regular granulated white sugar is naturally high in calories, with 45 calories per tablespoon.
  • Butter – Butter is a high calorie and fat culprit with 100 calories and 11 grams of fat per tablespoon, with 7 grams of that being saturated fat which is the type that is linked to elevated LDL cholesterol (the unhealthy kind).
  • Refined white flour -  This is sometimes labeled an “empty calorie” food because there’s not a lot of nutritional benefit left after the wheat grain has been stripped of its fibrous outer-shell and processed to become white flour. Refined grains have been linked to health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Whole-grain flour is a healthier alternative because it offers fiber and an assortment of vitamins.

Traditional Sugar Cookie Recipe 

  • 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoon whole milk
  • 3 cup flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder 
  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk butter until creamy. Add in sugar, eggs and milk stirring until well-mixed. Add in remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚. Remove dough from refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. If dough is sticky, it may need to be refrigerated longer. To make shapes, roll dough out with a rolling pin until reaching desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes before placing shapes on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake each batch 8-10 minutes. If you prefer not to make shapes and would like round cookies, dough can be pinched straight from the bowl and rolled into small balls before placing on cookie sheet to bake. 

Nutrition Information (1 Cookie): Calories 116; Fat 5g; Saturated Fat 3g; Carbohydrates 16g; Protein 1g; Fiber 0g

 

Healthier Sugar Cookie Recipe 

With less sugar, butter and eggs we’ve lightened up the traditional recipe here for fewer overall calories, while also replacing the white flour with whole wheat for added nutrition. 

  • ¾ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder 
  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk butter until creamy. Add in sugar, cream cheese, egg, vanilla and water until well-mixed.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together remaining dry ingredients before adding to the butter mixture, combining until mixed through. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350˚. Remove dough from refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. If dough is sticky, it may need to be refrigerated longer. To make shapes, roll dough out with a rolling pin until reaching desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes before placing shapes on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake each batch 8-10 minutes. If you prefer not to make shapes and would like round cookies, dough can be pinched straight from the bowl and rolled into small balls before placing on cookie sheet to bake.

Nutrition Information (1 Cookie): Calories 89; Fat 4g; Saturated Fat 3g; Carbohydrates 13g; Protein 2g; Fiber 1g

 

Healthiest Sugar Cookie Recipe

In lieu of dairy butter, we use coconut sugar and vegan butter as this recipe offers a traditional recipe taste and texture, but is still vegan-friendly with even a little pumpkin thrown in to act as a binding agent in place of eggs. Although higher in calories and fat per serving than our “Healthier” recipe, we labeled this the healthiest recipe as it has the least overall saturated fat and uses ingredients that offer more nutritional value in terms of vitamins and minerals. 

  • 1 cup vegan stick butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon unsweetened almond milk
  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk vegan butter until creamy. Add in sugars, pumpkin and vanilla until well-mixed.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together remaining dry ingredients before adding to the butter mixture, combining until mixed through. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350˚. Remove dough from refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. If dough is sticky, it may need to be refrigerated longer. To make shapes, roll dough out with a rolling pin until reaching desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes before placing shapes on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake each batch 8-10 minutes. If you prefer not to make shapes and would like round cookies, dough can be pinched straight from the bowl and rolled into small balls before placing on cookie sheet to bake.

Nutrition Information (1 Cookie): Calories 107; Fat 5g; Saturated Fat 1g; Carbohydrates 14g; Protein 1g; Fiber 1g

Light and fluffy or crisp and golden, however your cookies shape up, we hope we’ve offered you a recipe that will please your holiday crowd!

December 06, 2022