Does anyone have creative ideas to substitute regular dessert ingredients for more healthy ingredients? I have tried switching eggs out for flax seed meal which works great and I have heard something about switching out applesauce for butter- but Im not quite sure about that one. Anyone have ideas?
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I guess it all depends on what YOU mean by healthy. What's healthy for some is not healthy for others. Flax seed? is it healthy? or has it just not been used in food long enough or is not eaten widely enough for there to have been any studies done on its adverse affects? (maybe you'll find a couple of studies extolling its virtues, but not the kind of extensive epidemiological studies on its safety as has been done with butter and eggs - which in any case, give conflicting results). Is butter unhealthy? Perhaps if you have some genetic predisposition to accumulate cholesterol, but then some other healthy foods can kill someone in an hour if they have a genetic predisposition to be allergic to them - almonds, peanuts, they're "healthy" but not for everyone! People can be allergic to anything, and you don't want to eliminate everything potentially allergenic from your cookies or you'd be left with nothing. It's enough to make some without this, some without that, and you should have most people covered.
Also think of the trends in "healthy" and "not healthy" - once chocolate was considered definitely unhealthy - in the 70s and 80s they had carob brownies. Carob. as chocolate. I rest my case.
But now we're being encouraged to eat some chocolate every day. Same with tea, red wine, etc etc etc - the list is endless. Now there is evidence that salt is not bad for everyone, and there's some evidence that for some with normal blood pressure reducing salt can actually raise it. And butter is being exonerated too. Wait long enough and we'll find something "unhealthy" in everything, and then find it's the "healthiest" thing in the world.
Anyway, I think if there are some ingredients you want to eliminate from your cookies, for whatever reason, (and if you have a business, marketing is as good a reason as any - if people BELIEVE butter or some specific ingredient is unhealthy they will buy more of your cookies, whether it is or not), then you should specify which ones, and maybe someone here can help you find a way to substitute them. And you should specify if you want to substitute them for the texture or for the flavor? Because substituting applesauce for butter will not give the flavor that butter gives to food, that subtle melting aroma, but will put in the taste of apples - not a bad taste, but not a substitute in that sense. I would not want oatmeal cookies smelling of apples, that's just my taste. I like the butter which enhances the oatmeal taste, which is quite subtle. But maybe you're looking for the texture butter gives, and your clients like the taste of apples.
That should give you some specific and helpful answers.
To what degree of healthy you are trying to make these cookies is really quite important. I mean, you could add almonds to a cookie recipe and advertise it as a "healthier" cookie. Either way, here are a few substitutions I've come across...
I have made applesauce cookies before. The texture of the cookie is totally different, but it worked. They were actually quite light and fluffy!
Simple substitutions like using dark chocolate over milk would be a change in the healthier direction.
Raw honey is considered much better for you than table sugar. I've made a few honey based cookies. They were quite good, you just have to bake them on lower temps as the honey burns easily.
Whole wheat (or even 1/2 wheat 1/2 white) cookies would appeal to the health minded individual as well.
You can try including oats in more of your cookies. I've seen oats on a number of "healthy foods" and "super foods" lists.
You could also try using fruit based doughs. Add bananas and cut out a bit of sugar? I've never tried this, although I can't imagine why this wouldn't work. Bananas have quite a bit of sugar in them.
And lastly, just a marketing note: I know this isn't a huge issue in other countries, however, I find it quite important to buy foods with as little processing, preservatives, and chemical additives as I can. If you are making from-scratch cookies, with only the ingredients a common pantry would contain, that's important to some. When I want desserts, I make them myself.
Edited by KGraf88 - 1/13/11 at 7:00am