Anytime I smell gingerbread, I think about my grandma’s house at holiday time. Twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling, cheery music playing in the background, snow nestled on the window sills. The holiday aromas were the best part, though. No one made gingerbread cookies better than my grandma. They were rich and filling, and we always ended up eating a gazillion more than my parents said I was allowed to. Whenever my siblings and I would remake her recipe, it just wasn’t the same. Her special, secret grandma ingredient was missing, ya know?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to try and recreate my grandma’s favorite recipes to fit my family’s dietary and health needs. We substitute coconut oil for butter and coconut sugar for refined sugar. Just last year I finally perfected healthy gingerbread cookies with my grandma’s OG recipe as inspiration. They’re crunchy in all the right places, warm and sweet and spicy in every bite, and they bring you right back to childhood (sans the fattening ingredients!). When you serve up this gingerbread cookies recipe this year, see how many people can tell that they’re a healthier version. 😉
History & Origin The Gingerbread Man
The gingerbread man is a popular dude around holiday time! Still, I’ve found that not many people know who he is or where he came from. My grandma loved to share the history of the gingerbread man as we mixed and rolled and baked together. We learned that his origin is accredited to Queen Elizabeth I. She would gift visiting guests (mostly fellow royalty and other dignitaries) with gingerbread men that resemble them. They quickly grew in popularity, and later, when ginger was found to be a warming spice and beneficial in the winter months, they became a holiday staple. Gingerbread cookies vary greatly by each baker and each family. My healthy gingerbread cookies recipe, adapted from my grandma’s very own, has quickly become a big hit.
Main Ingredients For Healthy Gingerbread Cookies
- Whole wheat pastry flour—Whole wheat pastry flour is a great alternative to bleached white flour in these healthy gingerbread cookies because you get all the nutrients that whole grains provide. Bleached flour strips away most of those vitamins and minerals. I haven’t tested any gluten-free variations of this gingerbread cookies recipe, but if you try, keep in mind that coconut flour will absorb more liquid than almond flour. This may make it more difficult to replicate the density of whole wheat pastry flour.
- Molasses—Mmm, warm molasses. The standout flavor in gingerbread cookies! Unlike other liquid sweeteners, molasses will create iconic chewiness that other holiday cookies lack. Its viscosity helps to keep the gingerbread man’s shape while keeping the center perfectly soft.
- Collagen powder—This skin-transforming superfood is what puts the health in these healthy gingerbread cookies. Collagen packs a beauty-school punch by reducing cellulite and sun damage and helping to reverse the signs of aging. I put my favorite collagen in just about everything. Seriously. One scoop of my Unflavored Super Youth Multi-Collagen Peptides goes in my morning coffee, in all my big family dinner recipes, desserts, everything!
- Spices—Spices make this cookie the warm, cozy hug that you anticipate when biting into a gingerbread man. If you don’t know how to make gingerbread cookies, listen up. If you do one thing right, let it be the spices! A mix of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper all give these healthy gingerbread cookies their iconic kick. At the beginning of November, I always throw together my very own gingerbread spice mix. I love that it’s ready for me whenever I crave this gingerbread cookies recipe, plus I like to toss it in my coffee. 🤷♀️