4 Healthy Additions to Your Favorite Valentine's Day Cookie Recipe

I love cookies. It's really no secret.
Sprinkle nuts atop cookies! Photo Credit: Flickr

I think the key to sticking with a healthy diet is by having treats on special occasions. (And, by making them just a bit healthier than usual!)

Give your favorite cookie recipe a healthy makeover this weekend for Valentine's Day.

Here are four of my favorite ways to make cookies pack a nutritional punch -- and taste wonderful!

1. Flaxseed
If your go-to cookie contains oatmeal or nuts, consider mixing a few tablespoons of milled flaxseed into the batter. The nutty-flavored seeds are packed with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, disease fighting antioxidants and fiber to keep you regular, according to registered dietitian Elaine Magee, an expert columnist on WebMD. Although the flavor of flaxseed is mild, it pairs best with a hearty, thick cookie.

2. Nuts
Add some crunch to your cookies by using chopped nuts. Whether you sprinkle them on top of your favorite cookie recipe, or mix the nuts into the batter, your body will thank you. Nuts provide healthy unsaturated fats, skin-clearing Vitamin E and fiber for regular digestion, according to the Mayo Clinic. To trim a few calories from the treats, choose the lowest calorie nuts such as almonds, pistachios and peanuts.

3. Spices
Instead of decorating cookies with colored sugar, try a flavorful ground spice. Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial spice that can help ease arthritis symptoms and fight the growth of bacteria and yeast in the body, according to the World's Healthiest's Foods website. Cloves also help reduce inflammation, plus they are a source of vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.

4. Fruit
Enhance your favorite Valentine's Day cookie recipe by mixing chopped, dried fruit into the batter. Dried cranberries, raisins and cherries not only provide a dose of vitamins and antioxidants, they also add a festive red hue and chewy texture to your treat. Try giving your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe a makeover with both fruit and nuts. Or, use small pieces of dried fruits to decorate cut-out sugar cookies.

So, how to you like to make your cookies a little bit healthier? Do you have a great refined sugar swap or healthy mix-in you'd like to let readers know about? Comment below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally written by me, Angela Tague, and published on Yahoo! Voices on February 17, 2012. Since that website is no longer online, I've chosen to reprint this article on Whole Foods Living after the publishing rights reverted back to me.

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