Featured — 01 December 2014

Holiday recipe countdown: How to lighten up 5 classic recipes without losing flavor!

By: Jodie Shield, RDN

Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanza. These frosted, tasty sugar cookies are a hit no matter what holiday your family celebrates. Jean from Hawthorn Woods, IL, shared this family classic recipe. It was her Grandmother’s specialty and she lovingly recalls how Grandma taught her how to roll out the dough and carefully cut-out the cookies. While it’s hard to lighten up  sugar cookies, here is what I recommend:

  1. To cut back on fat, use fat-free milk instead of 2% or whole milk; substitute 2 large egg whites for every one large egg.
  2. Go easy on the frosting – I cut the original recipe in half!

These small changes made a big nutrition difference. The recipe still tastes fantastic, but has about 50% fewer calories, fat and saturated fat. Best of all, it’s super easy to make, especially if you use a mixer.  My daughter, Jenny, tested this recipe for me and she said it was so good, I just had to put it on my app Time to Eat Healthy. In fact, over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding five of my all-time favorite holiday recipes like Herb-Crusted Standing Rib Roast, Cornish Hens with Citrus Marinade, Wild Rice and Dried Cranberry Stuffing, and Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes. My Time to Eat Healthy app makes a great gift for loved ones trying to eat healthy homemade meals that take only minutes to make, and I’m donating a portion of the proceeds to charity. Click here to order the app from iTunes. Let the healthy, holiday recipe countdown begin!

Classic Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Prep and Chilling Time: 2 1/2 hours

Cooking Time: 10 minutes


For Cookies:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into four pieces
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

For Frosting:

  • ½ pound bag powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon fat-free milk
  • An assortment of food coloring and decorative holiday sprinkles 


For Cookies:

  1. In a large bowl, combine sifted flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar; set aside.
  2. Mix butter, powdered sugar, egg whites, vanilla, and almond extract until creamy. Add flour mixture and blend until combined. Cover mixing bowl and chill for about two hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheets with butter or nonstick spray.
  4. Remove dough from fridge. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Cut into holiday shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for seven to eight minutes, watching carefully so that edges do not burn.
  5. Remove from oven. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

For Frosting:

Mix the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and milk until creamy and easy to spreadable. Separate frosting into small bowls; add a few drops of different food coloring into each bowl. Decorate cookies with frosting and sprinkles.

Nutritional Information per Serving (1 cookie with frosting): 135 calories, 1g protein, 18g carbohydrate, 6g fat, 4g saturated fat, 17mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 40mg sodium

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. I made these cookies for Christmas with my niece. They turned out great! I made one batch with two egg whites and one batch with a whole egg. They both turned out great!!

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