Great Grains: 9 Whole Grain Holiday Cookies

Whole Grain Holiday Cookies

This is the eighth post in the series Great Grains, highlighting unusual whole grains and how to incorporate them into your diet. Check out recent posts on Whole Grain Thanksgiving, teff, and barley.


With shopping, stringing lights, and wrapping presents taking up most of my time in December, finding time to bake Christmas cookies can be a challenge. But even when I’m short on time, I love to search for new recipes and to make old family favorites. There’s nothing better than warming up the house with the cooling racks piled high with pecan fingers and chocolate thumbprints.


In keeping with my challenge to make 2012 my year of whole grains, I continued the  project this holiday season by adding whole grains into my holiday baking. A few days of searching through cookbooks and the web revealed that making whole grain Christmas cookies was going to be a cinch. For traditional family recipes, I started by substituting alternative flours for the all or part of the all-purpose flour. There are several reliable substitution charts online that recommend how much of the whole grain flour is appropriate – I tend to substitute a little less whole grain flour in the classic family cookies than I would in breads or other baked goods, just to maintain the same texture and form we’re used to.


More exciting for me this year were all the new whole grain cookie recipes I found. It seems like I’m not the only one interested in making the holidays a little healthier and heartier this year. Below you’ll find nine of the best recipes. One or all just might find their way onto your family’s list of Christmas cookie favorites this year!


1. Multi-Grain Cut Outs – Instead of the standard sugar cookie cut-outs, these cookies use whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and cornmeal for a triple-dose of whole grains. Decorate them with frosting, glaze, or sprinkles – anything you’d put on a plain sugar cookie.


2. Amaranth Cookies - Amaranth has one of the highest protein contents of any whole grain, making these simple seven-ingredient cookies the perfect start to a day of sledding or holiday shopping.


3. Almond-Cranberry Quinoa CookiesQuinoa cookies are so good (and good for you!) they even got a spot on the TODAY show this year. These almond-cranberry cookies aren’t necessarily just for the holidays, but if topped with holidays sprinkles or powdered sugar they’ll fit right in.



4. Teff Peanut Butter Cookies My first encounter with teff peanut butter cookies was this past October while creating another Great Grains feature. This time I added a few shakes of red and green colored sugars for extra holiday character.


5. Swedish Rye Cookies I like cookies that are not too sweet and not too plain. These Swedish Rye cookies are right in the middle, and are completely whole grain, with a mix of rye and whole-wheat pastry flours.



6. Applesauce-Granola Cookies – If whole grain flours aren’t your thing, these applesauce-granola cookies just might win you over. The recipe includes 2 cups of your favorite granola with whole grain oats, wheat germ, rolled barley, or rye flakes. I also substituted whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose for a heartier crunch and flavor.


7. Wild Rice and Dried Cranberry Cookies Oatmeal-raisin cookies with holiday sprinkles are always on our table this time of year. This recipe is a close, gluten-free substitute with cooked wild rice and whole grain brown rice flour.



8. Lemon-Cornmeal Cookies    Finding a cornmeal cookie that’s the perfect balance between crunchy and soft is not easy. This recipe includes a full cup of coarsely ground cornmeal mixed with flour for a light lemon holiday cookie.


9. Barley Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies – If chocolate chip cookies are a must-have on your holiday baking list, try adding barley flour instead of all-purpose flour. It gives a better texture and nutty flavor than whole-wheat flour without sacrificing the cookie’s gooey inside and crisp edges.




Amy Sippl is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good, and Tasty. She grew up in rural Wisconsin, but now calls St. Paul her home. She writes about her successes and struggles to eat and grow local food on her blog: Minnesota Locavore. Her last post in the Great Grains series was How to Have a Whole Grain Thanksgiving.