By Beth Brink
Dec. 5, 2017 at 4 p.m.
Baking cookies at Christmastime brings back fond childhood memories for many - wearing an oversized apron, flour all over the counter and floor, sneaking a bite of cookie dough, the sweet aroma coming from the oven, the warm finished product with a tall glass of milk (or a steaming cup of hot cocoa), or the overuse of icing and sprinkles on the cookies you were allowed to decorate.
Cherished memories, such as these, have given way to cookie swap parties, where friends gather together with their trademark cookie recipe and ingredients and spend the day baking and having a great time.
At the end of the day, they share their cookies, and everyone walks away with a variety. This is not a new idea, historians have traced the roots of Christmas cookies back to European Medieval recipes. The earliest Christmas cookies in America came ashore with the Dutch in the early 1600s.
Cookie recipes have changed somewhat through the years, and because of the health conditions of many Americans today (diabetes, celiac disease, etc.), recipes are still evolving so that this sweet treat doesn't have to be a distant memory.
Changes, such as the type of sweetener used, the type of flour or substitutions for dairy products, gives us a way to have our cookies and eat them, too (preferably in moderation).
Consider the following substitutions:
• Sugar substitutions: There are several sugar-free substitutes on the market such as Stevia, Truvia and Splenda.
• Many gluten-free substitutions can be found at this website: glutenfreeandmore.com/resources/food-allergy-substitutions
• Egg substitutions: cup unsweetened applesauce; cup banana; 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water until fully absorbed and viscous (about 10 minutes); or whisk together 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of oil (like corn or vegetable oil) and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Note: Replacing more than two eggs will change the integrity of a recipe.
Recipes for sugar free cookies, gluten free cookies and vegan cookies abound on the internet. Pull out your apron, gather the children (or family and friends) and bake some sweet memories this Christmas season.
An example for those who need to watch sugar and carbohydrate intake, try this recipe.
Beth Brink, dietetic in tern from Texas A&M Kingsville.