Sunday, January 24, 2010

Light & Healthy made Lighter & Healthier

When I started this project I felt like part of what I wanted to do was make an attempt to bake some 'guilt free' cookies at least part of the time.  I'll confess that part of my motivation for this is self serving due to the fact that during the course of baking all these cookies it would be practically impossible for me to not actually eat a cookie now and then.  Sometimes I can legitimately justify that as being part of the 'quality control' process to ensure the final product is suitable for human consumption (sounds good anyway, right? :). Truth be told, I don't really have to 'taste test' cookies that I've made dozens of times before, but I'm sticking with the 'quality control' angle anyway.  Still, I do think, at least on occassion, it's a good idea to make something that not only tastes delicious, but that also isn't loaded with calories and fat.  Some recipes are just naturally healthier, sometimes is can be accomplished by portion control and sometimes you can pull it off by making careful ingredient substitions and modifications - with this past weeks cookies I think I was able to hit the mark on all three fronts.

I started with a solid, well reviewed recipe from Cooking Light for an oatmeal raisin cookie called Oatmeal Spice Cookies.  I made them a little large so they're comprable to what someone might buy from a bakery - or similar to an Otis Spunkmeyer type cookie.  I then made some only slight substitutions.  Had they been for myself, I may have been more aggressive with the flour and fat substitutions, but I wanted to make sure they were 'gift worthy' so I did only half substitutions and the result was an even healthier cookie that still tasted great.  And I can comment also, due to my quality control testing ;), that the healthier version was a bit more dense and strangely had a much more intense spice/ginger/nutmeg flavor, perhaps because there was less fat to mellow the flavors?  If I were to make this version again I would probably also slightly reduce some of the spices. 

Here are the two versions - either well worth the effort.  In the photo the original version is on the left, the healthier version with craisins on the right.

Oatmeal-Spice Cookies (Healthier substitutions in Italics)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (3/4 C Flour & 3/4 C Whole Wheat Flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup stick margarine, softened (1/4 C Margarine & 1/4 Unsweetened Applesauce)
3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg (1/4 C Eggbeaters or Egg Substitute)
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/3 cups raisins (1 1/3 C Dried Cranberries [Craisins])
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside. Combine brown sugar and next 6 ingredients (brown sugar through egg) in a large bowl, and beat mixture at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Stir in oats and raisins, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in flour mixture.

Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on wire racks. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Yield as Prepared: 36 Cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)
CALORIES 115 (24% from fat); FAT 3.1g; IRON 0.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 6mg; CALCIUM 13mg; CARBOHYDRATE 20.3g; SODIUM 104mg; PROTEIN 2.2g; FIBER 1.2g

With all noted substitutions:
CALORIES 110; FAT 1.9g; IRON 0.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 3.5mg; CALCIUM 12mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22.3g; SODIUM 143mg; PROTEIN 2.1g; FIBER 1.4g
Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 1997

By the way - check out the nutritionals on a 2 oz Otis Spunkmeyer Oatmeal Raisin Cookie - twice the calories and three times the fat (four times of the healthier version!), in fairness, their cookie maybe slightly larger than mine, but not by much, maybe 10%
CALORIES 230 (over 1/3 from fat); FAT 9 (3.5g Saturated) CHOLESTEROL 10mg;  CARBOHYDRATE 37g; SODIUM 150mg; PROTEIN 3g; FIBER 2g

And while I wasn't planning on doing a 'light' cookie for next week, I can guarantee it won't be over 200 calories and have 10 grams of fat in it!!

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