Baking and decorating tips for healthy cookies

On an overcast Saturday morning in December, about 40 kids were doing what kids do best: Decorating and eating cookies. They carefully added frosting, marshmallows, sprinkles and extra sugar to the cookies that the Fairmont hotel’s executive pastry chef, Erin Brew, baked for them for their first annual cookie decorating event. They sipped hot chocolate, gobbled down the cookies and licked the sticky sugary goodness off their fingers.

It was the perfect morning, evidenced by the lack of even a single tear from these tots and preschoolers.

But if you missed their cookie decorating event, don’t fret. Making cookies at home is an easy and fun activity you can do with your little ones. Bonus: Your kids don’t have to leave the table with a sugar high.

Brew offers her best tricks to making yummy healthy (well, healthier) cookies this holiday season.

  • Swap out half the fat (butter, vegetable oil, shortening) for a healthier fruit, vegetable or nut puree (applesauce, pumpkin or peanut butter all work).
  • Most recipes can afford to lose up to a quarter of the original amount of sugar without any noticeable difference. You can also substitute some or all of the white sugar with a liquid alternative, such as maple syrup, agave nectar or molasses. Many of these alternatives are sweeter than reguar sugar so you can use less. If you do this, make sure you add additional flour or dry ingredients to compensate for the additional liquid.
  • Here’s our sneaky tip of the day: One of the best ways to get a kid to eat something healthier is to not tell him that it’s healthy. Consider adding mixed dried fruit for color and additional sweetness, or some additional spice or citrus zest to cover up the flavor of a substitute ingredient.
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