Looking for a sweet treat that isn’t loaded with extra calories? These dark chocolate cherry cookies are easy to make and guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.
I will be the first to admit that I have a serious sweet tooth. Seriously, I can reason with myself on eating a whole box of Girl Scout cookies in one afternoon. And because of that, I can’t keep a lot of store bought sweets in the house. That’s also why I like finding ways to make sweet treats with less fat and sugar. One of the perks of working here at Healthy Family Project is that we are all on that mission to create a healthier generation 🙂
Baking cookies, breads, cupcakes, cakes and all those other amazing desserts usually comes with butter, sugar, more butter and more sugar. Which is totally fine…in moderation. But, if you are like me, and have a hard time resisting that 2rd, 3rd, and 4th cookie, you will be happy to know that baking can be made healthier by incorporating smart ingredient choices and modifying preparation methods. Which I am going to share with you so you can have your cake (in this case….cookie) and eat it too!
Here are some ways to make your baking recipes a bit healthier:
- Flour Options:
- Use whole wheat flour or other whole grain flours instead of refined white flour. They contain more fiber and nutrients.
- Experiment with almond flour, coconut flour, or oat flour for added nutrients and reduced carbohydrate content.
- Sugar Substitutes:
- Replace some or all of the refined sugar with natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. Keep in mind that these still contain calories, so use them in moderation.
- Use mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, or dates as natural sweeteners.
- Healthy Fats:
- Opt for healthier fats like olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil instead of butter or shortening. These fats provide beneficial nutrients.
- Add Nutrient-Rich Ingredients:
- Incorporate ingredients like nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate chips for added nutrients, antioxidants, and texture.
- Reduce Added Fats:
- If a recipe calls for a lot of butter or oil, try using a smaller amount or replacing some with unsweetened applesauce or yogurt.
- Portion Control:
- Make smaller portion sizes to control calorie intake. This is particularly helpful with high-calorie baked goods.
- Incorporate Whole Ingredients:
- Use Egg Whites or Substitutes:
- Use egg whites or egg substitutes to reduce cholesterol and saturated fat content, while still providing structure to baked goods.
- Limit Salt:
- Reduce the amount of salt in your recipes or consider omitting it entirely. Many baked goods can still taste great with less salt.
- Mindful Toppings and Fillings:
- Choose healthier toppings like sliced almonds, shredded coconut, or fresh berries instead of sugary glazes or heavy creams.
- Experiment with Recipe Modifications:
- Look for healthier versions of your favorite recipes or experiment with modifying existing recipes. This is also a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen; pick a recipe and work together to see what mindful swaps you can make.
- Use Natural Flavors:
- Enhance the flavor of your sweet treats with natural ingredients like vanilla extract or citrus zest.
Not every baked good needs to be perfectly healthy, but these tips can help you create treats that are better for your overall well-being.
I added chia seeds to these dark chocolate cherry cookies (and a lot of other recipes actually!) because they don’t change the taste or texture of what you are making, but they definitely increase the nutritional value. Chia seeds are packed with essential nutrients like fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
I also used dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contains high levels of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids and polyphenols. These compounds help combat oxidative stress and may contribute to reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Baking at home allows you to have control over the ingredients and portion sizes, making it easier to create healthier versions of your favorite sweet treats.
Alright, let’s do some baking shall we?
Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
- ½ cup dried cherries
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda and whisk until combined. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Then add eggs one at a time and the almond extract and beat longer.
- Then add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Fold in the dark chocolate chunks, dried cherries, and chia seeds.
- Form balls and place onto a baking sheet(s).
- Optional: add additional chocolate on top then slightly press the cookie down to flatten a bit.
- Bake at 350℉ for about 10-12 minutes.