This time of year, the conversation in my head goes something like this:
I need a cookie right NOW!
But what about all that sugar and butter and white flour? Sigh…
Hi, my name is Jaenell and I’ve got a preeeeetty major sweet tooth. I try to “be good” as much as I can, but sticking with healthy eating habits during the holiday season can be really tough as plates of sugary, buttery treats seem to magically pop up all around me, calling my name and slowly chipping away at my will power.
Rather than deprive myself — which, let’s be honest, only leads to over eating the thing I’m craving later — I challenged myself to create a holiday cookie that tasted amazing AND could be called healthy.
Enter these lightened up pistachio cranberry cookies. Salty + sweet + tart, they’re holiday cookie perfection without the guilt. Not to mention they’re super festive and cute with their red cranberries, green pistachios and white chocolate stripes. And each batch makes about 3 dozen cookies, perfect for sharing with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers 🙂
Spreadin’ that healthy cookie love!!
These cookies earn a gold star in my book for upping the health factor a few notches:
- Whole wheat flour, rather than all purpose, pumps up the nutrition value, and adds a lovely nutty flavor. Don’t miss my tips for achieving light, fluffy, moist whole wheat baked treats below!
- Coconut oil in place of butter eliminates the heart un-healthy animal fats while still lending a wonderful richness. If you’re not a fan of coconut, no worries — coconut oil is really mild in flavor. You won’t even know it’s in there, I promise.
- Less sugar — half the normal amount to be exact! I don’t tend to like cookies that are overly sweet (my sweet tooth is discerning, you see), and with half of the sugar than a standard drop cookie recipe calls for — these little cuties are plenty sweet, and perfectly balanced with the salty pistachios and tart cranberries.
Not to mention these cookies are super simple to make. Just mix the wet, mix in the dry, bake, drizzle. Gotta love a recipe that you can sum up in one sentence!
A quick note on the white chocolate drizzle. Not just any white chocolate will do. I learned that the hard way when my Nestle white chocolate chips seized and clumped up rather than melting beautifully. After some quick (slightly panicked) Googling, I found that white chocolates with stabilizers (to keep them in their cute little drop shapes) won’t melt down to drizzling and dipping perfection. Lesson learned!
While these cookies were cooling on the rack, I threw on my boots and ran to the store to grab a bar of really good white chocolate — made with just sugar, cocoa butter, milk and vanilla. It’s a little bit more pricy, but oh-so-worth-it.
Whole wheat baked goods tend to get a bad rap for being dense and heavy. But I’ve got two super easy tricks to share with you to help you achieve light, fluffy, moist whole wheat cookies (and other treats!).
- Let the dough rest. One of the best tips I’ve learned for baking with wheat flour. Whole wheat flour retains both the germ and bran of the wheat, making it much coarser than all purpose. Allowing your batter or dough to rest before baking, even just 10 minutes, gives the liquids a chance to hydrate the flour completely — resulting in a moister, lighter finished product.
- Add a dash of vinegar. Vinegar interacts with baking soda in cakes and cookies, setting off a chemical reaction that gives the batter lift as it bakes — making whole wheat baked goods as light and fluffy as their all purpose flour cousins. While vinegar has a pretty harsh smell and taste on it’s own, it’s very mild and the flavor doesn’t come through in complex batters like these pistachio cranberry cookies. White or apple cider vinegar will do!
With these tools in your healthy baking arsenal, you’ll be unstoppable! Bring on the holiday parties, gatherings and get togethers. These no-fail, lightened up cookies have your back.
- 6 Tbsp coconut oil
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp room temperature water
- 1 Tbsp vinegar (white or cider)
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup roasted salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries (unsweetened), coarsely chopped
- ½ cup white chocolate chunks
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- In a large mixing bowl, add the coconut oil, sugars, honey, vanilla, salt and water and beat until smooth. Add the vinegar, egg, baking soda and baking powder, stirring until just combined. Add the flour, stirring until just incorporated -- and then the pistachios and cranberries, folding in until just combined.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let set in for at least 10 minutes, up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop and drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet 2" apart.
- Bake for 11 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown lightly (lift gently with a spatula to check). They may appear light and undercooked on top, but that's okay! You want them to say soft.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- While the cookies are cooling, add the white chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate reaches a drizzling consistency.
- Using a spoon, scoop a tsp of the chocolate and drizzle over each cookie. Allow to set until firm.
- Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for a week.