Gingerbread cookies are one of my all-time favorite snacks. I can devour a whole batch of these spicy cookies on Christmas morning with a cup of coffee!
The problem is, I crave them all year long, not just in the winter holiday season. Besides, traditional cookies aren’t spicy enough for my taste.
That made me wonder: Are gingerbread cookies healthy? And is there a healthier way to make them?
In this article, I’ll answer all your burning questions about these Christmas cookies. Let’s jump into the details right away.
Well, the answer depends on your recipe, especially the amount of sugar and fat in it.
If you add a lot of sugar and fat—typically in the form of butter—to your gingerbread cookies, they won’t be the healthiest option.
Plus, these winter treats contain a lot of healthy spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. So, by ditching some of the unhealthy ingredients, you can make guilt-free winter treats.
Because of the sugar and fat content, gingerbread cookies might be calorie-dense. So, eating a lot of these Christmas treats isn’t the best idea if you’re on a weight loss diet.
On top of that, if you have a sensitive stomach like mine, you’ll struggle after eating these cookies because of their slightly spicy taste.
Generally, the amount of calories inside a cookie will depend on the recipe or the brand.
On average, a gingerbread cookie contains around 200 to 250 calories. It also contains around 7.3 grams of fat.
There’s no denying the happiness that gingerbread cookies bring, especially around the holidays. Yet, deliciousness isn’t the only benefit that those treats bring.
Here are some of the possible benefits of these heavenly snacks:
If you struggle with motion sickness like I do, you’ll love gingerbread cookies even more. Ginger has the magical ability to relieve nausea by stimulating stomach emptying.
That’s why I love carrying an extra cookie with me on the road.
You won’t believe how the tiniest amount of ginger can relieve gas and bloating.
It also helps with constipation and other gastrointestinal conditions.
The special spices inside your gingerbread cookies, including ginger, cinnamon, and clove, are full of antioxidants.
The thing is, your body is prone to damage from free radicals, which are unstable atoms that attack cells. Antioxidants are like protectors that scavenge free radicals from your body.
If you feel snack-ish during the day, a gingerbread cookie can give you the energy you were looking for.
With loads of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, you’ll be able to make it through any tough day.
The fact that gingerbread cookies are healthy can be perplexing. After all, the cookies are full of sugar, butter, and plenty of calories.
Even if you eat gingerbread cookies in moderation, you probably won’t feel like you’re having a healthy protein bar as a snack.
Well, do you want to eat your favorite Christmas snack without guilt? I’ll let you in on my secrets for making healthier gingerbread cookies!
This swap is a game-changer! After a lot of experiments with different flours, I found that almond flour works best with gingerbread cookies.
It’s the perfect gluten-free, healthy substitute for traditional flour. This phenomenal flour is light and has low levels of carbs.
The best part is that it adds a hint of nuttiness to your cookies with a slight bitterness. But don’t worry about the bitterness, as the spices will cover it up.
Pro tip: Make sure to buy almond flour and not almond meal! These two ingredients aren’t the same thing.
Almond flour is much lighter than the meal. As a matter of fact, the meal might ruin your cookies, so make sure to buy the right thing!
It’s no secret that molasses is an essential part of most gingerbread cookie recipes. It enhances the flavor of the cookies and is responsible for the unique texture of the cookies.
So, there aren’t a lot of alternatives you can go for.
In my experience, honey does an excellent job of replacing molasses. It has a similar texture, and it adds the right amount of sweetness to your recipe.
Sad news: it doesn’t have the same caramel-like taste. On the bright side, it’s a healthier alternative.
Gingerbread cookies are packed with tons of nutrients, but why not add a little more?
Nuts and seeds are full of fiber, proteins, and vitamins. They also enhance the taste of your cookies.
Here are some of my favorite healthy nuts:
If you’re looking for seed recommendations, here are some of my favorites:
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
One of the most fun parts of making gingerbread cookies is decorating them. During the holidays, the icing transforms the gingerbread cookies from plain to festive.
Accordingly, there’s no getting around making gingerbread cookies without the joyous icing.
Don’t be disappointed, as there are numerous healthier alternatives to buttercream icing.
For starters, you can make a low-calorie icing using Greek yogurt in place of the butter.
What’s more, you might even make icing with zero sugar. The thing is, sugar doesn’t affect the texture of the decoration, so you can replace it with stevia or any healthy sweetener.
Now, you can probably alter your favorite recipe to make it healthier. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe that’ll become a holiday staple:
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 3 cups all-purpose or almond flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons molasses for color
- 1 large egg
For the icing, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup stevia
- 2 tablespoons of coconut flour
After gathering all the ingredients, you can proceed with the following steps:
- Start by mixing all the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, and baking powder) in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut oil, honey, molasses, and egg until everything is well-blended.
- Then, combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing them slowly until combined.
- Next, divide the dough into two smaller pieces, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate overnight or for at least one hour.
- Once you’re ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Afterward, roll out the dough into a ¼-inch-thick sheet. If the dough is too crumbly, keep rolling or wait until it warms up slightly.
- Cut out your favorite gingerbread shapes and place them on the baking sheet
- Finally, bake for 10 minutes, decorate, and enjoy!
To prepare the icing, you can follow these steps:
- Start by straining the yogurt. Then, leave it in the fridge for two hours to drain.
- After that, remove all the liquid from the yogurt and mix all the icing ingredients with an electric hand mixer.
- Cover the frosting and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
So, are gingerbread cookies healthy?
Well, the answer depends on the gingerbread recipe you’ll make. In general, these Christmas treats are packed with fats and sugars, which makes them unhealthy.
However, you can use healthier ingredients and enjoy a guilt-free cookie every time you crave one.
You might also want to add some nuts and seeds for an extra dose of nutrients. Of course, it’s not a Christmas treat without decorations. You can make your own healthy icing using Greek yogurt.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.