I sometimes feel I sound like a broken record. One sentence I seem to type a lot in this blog is if you aren’t planning to be healthy, what are you planning? I posted a blog called What’s Your Plan a little over a year ago and I have repeated the phrase in various other postings. I really think we need to spend time thinking about how we treat our body today in order to live a long life that is healthy and full of quality. That is why a recent report by USA Today got me a bit upset. The headline read “Nation’s Sickest Seniors Reshape Healthcare”. The first part of the report states that about 15% of seniors account for almost half of the spending on Medicare. It basically states that the sickest people on Medicare tend to have multiple health problems which means more money is spent on them for services and medications. People are living longer and, unfortunately, many have not planned ahead to ensure their quality of life remains high.
As many of you know I try very hard to eat well and work out on a regular basis. Over the last ten years I have developed many friendships with people who work out at the gym at the same time of day as me. Every year it seems the amount of people I see there increases. Many are people who have made the decision to incorporate exercise into their life because they want to improve their lifestyle, either because of a health scare or because they simply want to continue living life to it’s fullest. I have seen many people succeed in losing weight, getting stronger and even beating disease. I applaud them because they are taking the steps needed to enjoy a long, full life. They inspire me to keep doing my best to ensure my future.
I couldn't help but think about them when I was reading the report I mentioned. Especially when I read that diagnoses of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and kidney disease have seen double digit increases. These diseases can often be prevented with changes in diet and exercise. The report spotlights the effects of high health care costs on individuals and health care systems. Let’s just say it isn't good. One of the very last paragraphs of the report states the following:
In one of King's studies involving more than 15,000 Baby Boomers, people who adopted a healthy lifestyle over a four-year period were 40% less likely to have a heart attack or to die in the four years after that.
That’s right. If you don’t plan on living a healthy lifestyle, you are much more likely to be in the group of people with multiple health concerns. Or you might be taking care of one of them. Why would anyone plan on that?
This week’s recipe is my attempt to show that eating healthy does not mean you have to give up treats. I have talked before about how easy it is to substitute better-for-you ingredients in baking in order to cut calories and fat. If you keep a few key substitutions on hand, it is super easy to transform an overly decadent treat into a less guilty one. I have written the recipe the way I made it, putting the original ingredients in parentheses. As always, remember these are still treats and should be enjoyed in moderation!
Basic Sugar Cookies
Makes 30-32 cookies
1/4 cup vegan butter (originally 1/2 cup full fat butter)
1/4 coconut oil, melted (originally 1/2 cup vegetable oil)
1/2 cup no-sugar-added, natural applesauce (this replaced the other half of the butter and oil)
1/3 cup brown sugar (originally 1/2 cup white sugar)
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (originally 1/2 cup)
1 egg (could sub a flax egg, 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (originally 2 1/2 cups enriched white flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper
Common substitions to make baked goods a bit more healthy