When we asked on Instagram if you needed healthyish cookie recipes, the responses was overwhelmingly YES! So, we’ve put together a list of recipes for our favorite healthy cookies, or really, healthyish cookies. What’s healthyish? Well, cookies aren’t healthy, per say. We’ve tried to make healthy holiday cookies in the past, and they’re not all that good. Healthyish is the sweet spot of using ingredients that are nourishing, just enough sugar, and intriguing spices and flavors to make sure the cookies still taste decadent. In fact, if you’re looking for podcasts, we recently talked to Obama’s White House pastry chef about this very thing. And last week Alex and I were on Live TV sharing a few of the recipes below. (Since healthyish is not a word, I’ll also use healthy cookies interchangeably below. You know what I mean!)
Here are our 10 favorite healthyish cookies for this holiday. Each one is a recipe we’ve created, made multiple times, and loved.
These cookies are a healthyish version of a snowball cookie, but you’d never know they were a healthy cookies spin! They taste just like that cookie from childhood. The base is almond flour, so it’s naturally gluten-free and filled with nutrients. We’ve cut back a bit on the sugar versus the traditional recipe (using coconut sugar). And, the addition of chai spices helps to keep the cookies bursting with flavor, even with the slightly decreased sweetness. They’re one of our favorites this time of year.
If you live in the Midwest, buckeyes are where it’s at! These chocolate-dipped peanut buttery balls of goodness were one of my favorite discoveries when I moved to Indiana. To make these into healthy cookies, the centers are made out of Medjool dates blended with peanut butter. Instead of the traditional butter and sugar, the dates add a natural sweetness and nutrients without compromising on flavor.
This recipe has become a tradition in our household (and see this years updated shape, below!). I prefer soft gingerbread over crispy, so we created a version that’s to my liking. The spin to make these healthy cookies is that the dough has some almond butter and applesauce, to cut back a bit in the butter department and up the nutrient level. There’s also a bit of wheat flour, and they’re topped with turbinado sugar instead of icing. While they’re not a health food, they’re a bit closer to incorporating some good-for-you ingredients.
This one is as natural as they come: dark chocolate, dried tart cherries, quinoa, and pepitas. We love how adding quinoa gives this chocolate bark a little crunch. With the red and green of the cherries and the pepitas, it’s perfect for the holidays: and so simple to put together.
We talk about these a lot around here, but they’re our most popular recipe on the website. Essentially the baby of a peanut butter cup and a no-bake cookie, they’re also gluten-free, vegan, and naturally sweet. We love seeing people all over the world share photos of the bliss bites they’ve made with us on Instagram! The ingredient list is short and simple: cocoa powder, peanut butter, oats, coconut oil, and maple syrup. (And yes, you can substitute other nut butters to compensate for allergies!)
These stunning meringues are healthy cookies to the max: they’re filled almost entirely with air! Basically sugar, egg whites, and air, they’re a great treat when you’re looking for a little sweet. When adding the red stripe, look for natural food coloring if you can find it.
These aren’t technically a “cookie”‘, but they’re shaped like one! These mini cheesecakes too delicious not to mention in our healthy cookie roundup. Cashews, coconut oil and maple syrup make the cheesecake vegan; it’s set atop a crust of oats and pecans. Like our bliss bites, these are gluten-free, vegan, and naturally sweet: and they taste incredible. The vibrant purple color from the blackberries makes them visually stunning as well.
We like lazy treats, so how about a super simple and all-natural nut cluster? Like our quinoa bark above, these are all natural: dark chocolate, pistachios, and dried cranberries. The red and green makes them festive without using any unnatural food coloring. And they taste fantastic! These are the ultimate in healthy cookies without sacrificing any flavor.
Our new holiday cookie this year was a narwhal cookie to honor our favorite Christmas movie, Elf! We used the dough from our soft gingerbread cookie and decorated with a dusting of powdered sugar. Obscure animals make the best cookies, we think.
This one is not the typical holiday cookie, but we’ve made it before cut into small strips which I could imagine on a cookie platter! The healthyish spin here: it’s made of almond flour, so it’s naturally gluten-free. The almond flour makes for a chewy texture similar to a brownie or even biscotti. It’s a tried and true favorite.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious.