You know how it goes: Can I have a soda? No. Can I have a sucker? No. Can I have a marshmallow? No. Can I have some candy? No. Can I pour white sugar straight down my throat? Um, no.
Well now, when your kiddos ask for a cookie, you can actually say yes and feel good about it (just don’t let them know you’re happy about this). The super cookie is the latest and greatest in mom trickery. It has all the delicious flavor of the traditional, buttery, crunchy, sugar disks we all know and love, but without as much fat or sugar – and lots of hidden nutrition your kiddos will never SUSPECT is in there.
So what’s in a super cookie? Well, that’s up to you, ninja mom. There are countless ways to get sneaky about your super cookies. You can give just about every traditional flavor or texture a healthy makeover that little taste buds won’t even notice. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Secret Sugar Swap
Growing up, my mom cut the sugar in her cookies by a third and I never even knew it. Now we both cut sugar
by half in many recipes. Swapping out sugar for better ingredients is your number one nutritional Jedi mind trick.
Adding in bananas, applesauce or even boosting cinnamon
can add sweetness to balance out the sugar reduction
. Your kids will never even miss it.
Riddle Dee Dee, I See a Veggie That You Don’t See
Adding fruit or vegetables
can be a great way to add extra nutrition into desserts. Here’s something your kids don’t know: savory flavors from veggies turn sweet when baked.
Use avocados or applesauce in place of some of the oil or butter in a recipe. Carrots, zucchini and pumpkin are natural additions to quick breads. Pureed black beans can be added to brownies or used in place of flour to make them gluten free.
Kids are natural sugar sleuths. Don’t even TRY to pass off your healthy creations with generic names like “chocolate chip cookie.” They’ll catch on that it’s “not the same” and may chuck it in the bucket. COVER BLOWN. Instead, make up a cool name they can’t pass up, like Monster Mash Chocolate Smash cookie. Who can say no to that? (Even if they do pick up a hint of black bean in the mix.)
Date with Danger
Are you feeling lucky? Here’s a bold move: date balls. Dates are packed with fiber and can keep your digestion regular. It’s nature’s candy, but if you’re fortunate and you play your cards right, the kids will never know there’s anything natural about it.
Make no-bake date balls by whipping together the following ingredients in a food processor: 1 cup walnuts
or sesame seeds, ½ cup shredded coconut, 1 cups pitted dates (soak in water first to soften), and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Shape into balls and sprinkle with more coconut, sesame seeds or cocoa powder. Freeze for at least an hour and store in the freezer or fridge. Then watch them disappear into unsuspecting little mouths with silent, sneaky satisfaction.
Do not even THINK about mentioning “healthy ingredients.” They will look at every dessert you make from then on with disdain and suspicion. This is top secret stuff. Keep it that way. Hide the avocados and bananas behind a big bag of sugar while you’re cooking if you have to.
Oat No You Didn’t
Those definitely aren’t oats in there (or are they?) Oats contain beta glucan (a fiber that lowers cholesterol and reduces blood sugar), vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Plus, eating oats is great for your heart. Take THAT, heart disease!
Swap oat flour for half of the whole-wheat flour in any recipe. Want to go all oat on it? Oat flour has a light consistency when milled fine, so If you use 100% oat flour for cookies, you’ll need to add guar gum to help hold things together (available at natural food stores or Amazon).
If you can’t even pronounce the stuff, how could you have snuck it into dessert, right? Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is packed with protein and is high in magnesium, phosphorus, folate and iron. Plus, if you have a family member who has a gluten allergy or sensitivity, quinoa is a great gluten-free work-around.
Simply substitute cooked and cooled quinoa to any cookie recipe for the wheat grains the recipe calls for. Yes, it really is that easy.
If you’re making a big batch of quinoa for dinner, save some for cookies the next day so the grain is cool when you add it to the mix.
Bark They’ll Bite
Cover your tracks with chocolate. Make trail mix bark by melting dark chocolate chips and spreading it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Mix in assorted nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Or try adding coconut and toasted or popped quinoa. Let it set in the freezer until solid.
Remember size, shape and texture preferences will influence your little one’s taste acceptability. So try a variety of crushed and whole nuts, minced, blended, chopped or shredded fruit or veggie add-ins to see what works best. With a little experimentation, you’ll have your unsuspecting subjects eating healthier with every snack.