Spice up your holiday cookie making by adding some unique ingredients into the mix.

Cookies can be enhanced by adding various spices, citrus fruit zests, dried fruits and nut butters. Adding the freshest ingredients promotes high flavor without adding calories. Nuts add flavor while providing a healthy fat source.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with unique combinations or spices, ingredients and colors. In fact, according to Betty Crocker’s top cookie trends, adding fun colors to traditional cookie recipes to the dough or the filling is one way to make food fun.

Great ways to add some spice to your cookies include:

* Fresh grated ginger to molasses cookies or gingerbread.

* Cardamom and allspice to coconut macaroons.

* Cinnamon to chocolate crinkles.

* Lemon zest and almond extract to sugar cookies.

* Fresh rosemary to biscotti.

* Pumpkin pie spice to meringues.

* Almond, cashew or sesame butter in exchange for peanut butter.

Cookies that include the usual dose of fat and sugar can still be part of a balanced diet. A serving of one or two cookies with a small glass of low-fat milk can be a sensible holiday snack.

Jeweled Cookie Sandwiches

Prep: 35 minutes Chill: 2 hours

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling: 1/2 cup fruit preserves or low-sugar jelly and jams

All you do:

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest and mace. Beat until combined, scraping bowl. Beat in egg yolk, yogurt and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill or 2 hours or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of dough at a time to 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thickness. Cover and chill the remaining half of dough. Using a 1- to 2-inch cookie cutter, cut into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the second half of dough.

3. Bake 1-inch cookies 5 to 6 minutes or 2-inch cookies 7 to 8 minutes, or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Cool cookies on wire rack.

4. Frost the bottoms of half of the cooled cookies with 1/4 teaspoon (for 1-inch cookies) or 3/4 teaspoon (for 2-inch cookies) of desired filling. Place another cookie on top.

Makes about 40 (1-inch) or 20 (2-inch) cookies.

Nutrition Facts per cookie: 72 calories, 3 g total fat (2 g saturated), 12 mg chol., 54 mg sodium, 11 g carb., 0 g. fiber 1 g. protein.

Jennifer Dunavan MS, RD, LMNT is a registered dietitian with Fremont’s Hy-Vee Food Store.