In a season of over-indulgent desserts, it’s easy to forget that all things, even sweets, are okay in moderation. But a few weeks of pounding back cookies and cakes and pies is probably going to leave its mark, and it’s easy to throw portion control out the window when someone’s got a plate of buttery, sugary Christmas cookies shoved under your face (they always look so good).
But not all desserts are made equally; it is, in fact, possible to make diet friendly cakes, cookies, pies, etc. Simple ingredient swaps, portion control, and swapping chocolates and caramel for fruits and natural sweeteners are some of the ways you can have your cake and eat it too. So if you want a cookie, fine, by all means have a cookie, but it doesn’t necessarily have to set you back 400 calories (I’m looking at you, Starbucks).
This morning, mostly out of boredom, I set out to make some “healthy” cookies. When I bake for myself, this is no problem; I really enjoy cookies with oatmeal, whole wheat flour, nuts, etc. But this time, I wanted to try and make a cookie that everyone, even non-healthy foodistas would think tastes good; specifically, a cookie that my ever-picky brother and mom would eat. That means no nuts, no fruit, no oatmeal. And no whole wheat flour, since as far as I know, it is nowhere to be found in this house.
I’ve had this recipe for pistachio thins by Peanut Butter and Peppers saved on Pinterest for a while. I’ve yet to make them, but they sound delicious. Using her recipe as a sort of guide, I formed this recipe for a quick & easy low-calorie cookie that everyone, even my picky brother, can enjoy. These cookies are merengue-like; they’re slightly crispy and because they’re pretty low-calorie, you can have a few and not feel guilty after. I used applesauce instead of butter, which made these pretty sweet; if you don’t have a big sweet tooth, I would recommend reducing the sugar to 2 1/2 tbsp.
The pistachio cookies posted on Peanut Butter and Peppers had green food coloring added to them. I didn’t add any coloring to mine, but if I was making these for a specific occasion, I might add a few drops of red food coloring to make them a nice light pink color. If you decide to add food coloring, add it to the egg whites before folding in the flour.
Overall, these were pretty easy to make and I will absolutely make them again. The trickiest and most time consuming part was getting the egg whites to form peaks; really, that isn’t hard, it just takes some time (and an electric mixer). My recipe only makes about 12 cookies, so it’s perfect if you live at home or want a simple dessert for two!
Skinny Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Thins – makes approx. 12 cookies
1 egg white (I used 3 tbsp All White Liquid Egg Whites)
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flour (I used all-pupose, feel free to use white whole wheat)
about 1/2 tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce (I used Trader Joe’s Gravenstein kind)
Dash of cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp hazelnut extract*
*Instead of hazelnut extract, I used 3 Splenda Hazelnut flavor packets in place for some of my sugar
1. In a small dish, let your egg whites stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips, applesauce, and vanilla and hazelnut. Feel free to add more chocolate chips if you want them to be extra-chocolatey; I just wanted a few chips per cookie.
4. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat your egg whites until soft peaks form (this will probably take a while). Add sugar and cinnamon and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
5. Using a spatula, fold in half of the flour. Gently stir in the chocolate chips, applesauce, and vanilla/hazelnut extract. Fold in the rest of the flour until ingredients are combined.
6. Use a tablespoon of batter per cookie and drop onto the cookie sheet; leave at least an inch in between each. Spread each batter mound a bit into a circle, using the back of a spoon (circles will be about 2 inches in diameter).
7. Bake cookies for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on a wire rack.
NUTRITION INFO PER COOKIE (calculated on SparkPeople): approx. 30 calories, 0.2g fat, 6.4mg sodium, 6.1g carbs, 3.9g sugar, 0.7g protein
Note: I noticed that the batch I made got kinda soft/soggy after sitting for a while; store in an airtight container, but if this happens for you, just pop them in the toaster oven (or regular oven) for a few minutes before serving and they’ll crisp up nicely. Plus, they taste better warm, in my opinion!