This is a great little healthy dessert for the lunch bag! My inspiration for this healthy cookie recipe came out of my quest to create a healthier version of the red velvet cookie.
This Healthy Red Velvet Cookie incorporates natural ingredients like beets (no red dye), real butter and whole wheat flour. No matter how healthy I am trying to be, I still need chocolate and cookies in my life! Doesn't everyone? And somehow I just feel better about eating cookies if they have vegetables in them...
Anyone recall the groom's red velvet armadillo cake in the 1989 movie "Steel Magnolias"?
Or am I just dating myself? Or maybe I just care about cake way too much? When I hear red velvet, I automatically think: southern United States. Yet, however popularized the flavoring is in the southern U. S., that is not its origin. Red velvet is one of those foods that has a bit of a sordid history.
📖History of Red Velvet
In fact, Adams Extract, a Texas company, is credited with popularizing and spreading the red velvet cake joy across the United States during the Great Depression in an attempt to sell more red food dye. Red Velvet cake and its original recipe are well-known in the United States from New York City's famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and it's also known as the "Waldorf- Astoria" cake. But prior to the red food dye being added, the reddish hue was created by a chemical reaction between vinegar, cocoa, and buttermilk, with the color being considerably more subtle. That's where the red originally came from, but the velvet description actually came from the texture of the cake; the cake was known to have a smooth and silky fine crumb.
Red Velvet - a fun Canadian fact
Up here in Canada, Red Velvet cake was a popular dessert in the restaurants of the Eaton's department store chain in the 1940's and '50s. It was even touted as an exclusive Eaton's recipe. And Eaton's employees that knew the recipe were sworn to secrecy. Many people were under the false assumption that the cake was the creation of the department store matriarch, Lady Eaton.
💭Why beets in Red Velvet?
Well, beets are reddish, so it sort of makes sense to make red velvet stuff out of them. But the use of beets in red velvet became more commonplace when foods were rationed during the second world war. Bakers used boiled beet juices to enhance the color of their cakes and beets were also found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they were used to retain moisture. Generally, I'm not a fan of war food, for obvious reasons like rationing and using as little meat as possible (I am a meat girl, so this does not go over well with me.) But this is, by far, is my favorite war food! You can read more about why beets were used to make red velvet HERE.
For these easy beet cookies, you'll need:
- canned beets *you can use cooked fresh beets, but unless you have leftovers, why go to all that trouble?
- whole wheat flour
- baking soda
- white granulated sugar
- packed brown sugar
- Greek yogurt * I use non-fat, but you could go full fat, but it will obviously increase the calorie count
💭 Top tip
Use a good quality vanilla - it makes all the difference! You can buy a big bottle of 'pure vanilla extract' at Costco for a very reasonable price.
Red Velvet Popularity surge
In recent years, red velvet has become increasingly popular in North America and many European countries. In 2009, red velvet cake flavouring was part of 1.5 percent of all items on menus. By 2013, it was in 4.1 percent of menu items. Then the world went crazy and there was RED VELVET EVERYTHING!
In 2015, The Calgary Stampede was offering up Red Velvet Chicken Strips: Grade A chicken breast strips deep-fried in a batter of red velvet cake mix; served with fries, of course. The Calgary Stampede always serves as a bit of a barometer when it comes food trends. If a food is insanely popular that year, you can expect that food to somehow be desecrated, deep-fried and morphed into something on a stick. Yet, by Stampede 2016, no red velvet to be found. Hmmm......
Does that mean that red velvet is sooo 2 years ago? Who knows?! I try to track and predict food trends and they are as unpredictable as the weather here in Calgary. But whether it's still taking over the world or not, it doesn't matter. Red Velvet is so utterly ingrained into our food culture now that it's here to stay- at least in my foreseeable future. That's my foodie forecast anyway.
This red velvet cookie with beets is a healthy dessert recipe option and a great kids lunch box idea. Although this is the end of my "Lunch bag food"series, I will still periodically be posting more great lunch bag food recipes and lots of quick, easy and healthy recipes, so stay tuned!
If you like healthy red velvet, then try my Healthy & Natural Red Velvet Pancakes with Sweet Chocolate Cream Cheese Butter
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📋 Healthy Red Velvet Cookie Recipe
- 2 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup butter
- ½ cup cocoa
- 1 -398 ml/140z can can beets drained and pureed
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ⅔ cup plain non fat greek yogurt * Note: If you don't like the non fat stuff you could go full fat, but it will obviously increase the calorie count.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray cookie sheet with non- stick cooking spray
- In mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt; set aside.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; add sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand).
- Add yogurt and vanilla and drained and pureed beets to saucepan, stirring to combine.
- Add flour mixture, stirring until moist.
- Take the amount of a heaping tablespoon and form into balls. Then press down gently with a fork. Spread 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.
- Bake at 350° for 12- 15 minutes or until almost set (and lightly browned on bottom). Cool on pans 3 to 5 minutes or until firm to the touch.
- Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks. The cookies will have a cakey texture
How great is that using beets instead of food dye?! Besides being a yummy a healthier one. Can I count that as a serving or two of vegetables
Yes, it really makes you feel better about what you are eating! You can definitely say 2 servings if you eat 2 cookies! 🙂
Baked these up and I highly recommend oiling your hands before rolling in to balls. Dough is very sticky
I love that this recipe produces a not-too-sweet cookie with just a hint of beet taste.
I'm glad you liked it, Nancy!