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With all the low-fat and fat-free commercial products available, it's tempting to reduce or make substitutions for the sugar and fat in your own recipes to make cookies more healthful. This is risky, because any change in ingredient proportions also changes the texture and flavor of the cookies, and the results may not be what you expect.

Besides adding flavor, sugar and fat make cookies crisp and tender. Reducing sugar and fat makes cookies less crisp and more cakelike. Substituting an artificial sweetener or a lower-fat product will not yield an acceptable cookie.

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Here's what you can do to make cookies healthier:

  • Substitute rolled oats or whole wheat flour for one-fourth of the all-purpose flour to make cookies higher in fiber.
  • Add fruits or vegetables such as raisins or dried fruit bits, shredded or chopped apple, or shredded carrot to add fiber.
  • Use refrigerated or frozen egg product instead of a whole egg, or use two egg whites in place of one whole egg.
  • Reduce the amount of nuts and finely chop them. For bar cookies, sprinkle nuts over the surface where they show rather than stirring them into the batter.
  • Substitute mini semisweet chocolate pieces for the regular-size pieces and use half as many. You'll still get chocolate in every bite.
  • Substitute applesauce or fruit puree for half the fat in some bar cookies.

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