Chocolate Chip Quinoa CookiesWe’re just a few days away from the new year, and so you may be thinking about banishing treats such as cookies from your diet as of Jan. 1. But wouldn’t it be more realistic — and enjoyable — to resolve to make cookies healthier? They don’t need to be seven-layer, high fat, high sugar indulgences that contribute to many chronic disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular damage and dementia. Yes, high sugar is now identified as a major contributor for dementia. Some researchers even say Alzheimer’s disease is a kind of diet-induced insulin resistance they call Type 3 diabetes.

Using sugar substitutes like stevia, erythritol and xylitol can modify calories without sacrificing taste, and are better choices than other sugar substitutes. Whole grain flours like spelt and quinoa provide more protein, fiber, calcium and iron than whole wheat. They impart a nutty taste to delight any appetite. Butter and coconut oil add the most calories to each cookie, so portion control matters. But don’t fret about their saturated fat. There is no science to demonstrate they are unhealthy, consumed in moderation. Coconut oil is made unhealthy when hydrogen is added to the oil to make non-dairy cream or whipped toppings. Dr. Theron Randolph described it best when he stated “analytical dietetics” (what can be assessed by a machine) is not “biological dietetics” (how food is used in your body).

This basic cookie recipe can provide lots of variety for healthy snacks throughout the coming year. I’ve suggested four options, but you could create many more using your favorite add-ins.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup Xylitol sweetener or 3 tablespoons stevia- erythritol sweetener
2 eggs
1 cup spelt flour or whole wheat flour
3/4 cup coconut flour or unbleached wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup quinoa flakes or rolled oats
1 cup (6 oz) chocolate baking chips
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together coconut oil, butter, sweetener and eggs. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoons onto lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until browned. Makes 3 dozen.

To make Oatmeal Spice Cookies: add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves instead of chocolate chips.

To make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: add 1/2 cup raisins instead of chocolate chips.

To make Peanut Butter Cookies: add 1 cup peanut butter to creamed mixture. Top with chocolate chip, if desired.

Calories per cookie: 158; Protein: 3 g; Carbohydrates: 16 g; Fat: 8 g, Sodium: 69 mg.