SHAPING UP SANTA
Delicious ways to make cookies healthy for you and St. Nick
Paul R. Huard
Creators News Service
All Santa wants for Christmas is a guilt-free, low-fat plate of cookies set out by the good boys and girls so Mrs. Claus won't give him grief about being a little too tubby this holiday season.
Come to think of it, that might be your Christmas wish as well. One of the truths of the most wonderful time of the year is that too many cookies in December means you can't squeeze into the same pair of jeans in January.
And yet those cookies are so good, and it is the holidays. What can you do?
Plenty, if you are willing to use some clever tips and do some home baking. Low-fat cookies can be so delicious you might even want to give them as gifts -- if you don't keep them for yourself.
The website Allrecipes.com has dozens of recipes for low-fat holiday cooking and tips that will help you reduce your calories both in cookies and on your holiday menus. Here are some baking suggestions from their home economists:
* Simply reducing the sugar and fat (such as butter or shortening) called for in a classic cookie recipe by 25 percent will result in a good-tasting cookie that is lower in fat and calories.
* In recipes that call for several eggs, substitute two egg whites for one of the eggs if you are concerned about cholesterol. Adding an extra egg white gives crunch to a low-fat cookie.
* Use cocoa instead of melted or grated chocolate to help reduce fat. Three tablespoons cocoa plus one tablespoon water or other liquid equals one square, or one ounce, of melted baking chocolate. When baking, mix the cocoa in with the dry ingredients and the liquid with the wet or creamed ingredients.
* Light cookies do not brown like their higher-sugar counterparts. Adding a little baking soda (in addition to any other leavening in the recipe) will promote browning.
* Substitute corn syrup for the same amount of sugar called for in a recipe. A little corn syrup will produce a browner cookie with a crisp surface and soft interior.
* Reduced-fat butters or margarines contain water and air and will not produce a quality cookie. When using fat, use real butter or a high-fat content margarine.
* Be careful with temperature control. Over-baking will result in dry, hard cookies. Most low-fat cookies should be removed from the oven while they're still soft and lightly browned around the edges.
* Low-fat cookies taste best when eaten within a few hours of baking.
Here is a recipe for a low-fat cookie from Taste of Home Magazine that is featured on allrecipes.com:
LOW-FAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl, combine applesauce, oil and egg whites. Beat in sugars and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to applesauce mixture. Cover; refrigerate for 2 hours or until slightly firm.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes or until set.
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