LOOKING FOR a holiday cookie for the Big Guy to make him, um, less big? Try Holiday Ginger Cookies, a chewy version of a low-fat ginger snap.

Low-fat baking relies on substitutions. First, some of the flour may be replaced with whole-wheat flour. Wheat flours and egg whites contain proteins that allow the cookie to rise and not collapse when baked.

Next, some of the butter is replaced with a fruit puree; in this recipe, developed by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss, we used unsweetened applesauce.

Why not replace all of the butter? Because it gives baked goods their flavor and texture.

Finally, the spices are enhanced by layers of flavor, including molasses - which has an intense, caramelized taste - and crystallized ginger - bits of warm, spicy ginger root cooked in a syrup and coated with coarse sugar.

Shopping tips: Look for crystallized ginger in the spice aisle.

After cane sugar or sugar beets have been refined, the remaining juice is cooked down to a blackish-brown syrup known as molasses. There are several types of molasses, including light, dark and blackstrap. Light molasses comes from the first boiling of the syrup. It has a lighter color and flavor. Look for molasses with the health foods or with syrups and honeys.

HOLIDAY GINGER COOKIES

1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Dash salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar, divided

1/4 cup unsulfured light molasses

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 egg whites

Combine flours, soda, crystallized ginger, spices and salt in a mixing bowl; set aside.

Beat together butter, brown sugar, and 1/2-cup sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until mixture is very creamy. Beat in molasses and applesauce. Beat in egg whites. Add dry ingredients and blend until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until well chilled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon remaining 1/2-cup sugar into a shallow bowl. Shape about 1 tablespoon cookie dough lightly into a ball about 1 inch in diameter; roll each ball in remaining sugar.

Place cookies about 2 inches apart on parchment-lined sheets. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, lightly press each cookie down to make a disk about 2 inches in diameter. Bake 14 to 15 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool. Store in airtight container. Makes 38-40 cookies.

Per cookie: 82 calories (19 percent from fat), 2 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 78 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Jill Wendholt Silva is an award-winning food journalist and editor for the Kansas City Star. She is the author of the cookbook "Eating for Life" ($24.95, Kansas City Star Co.), featuring 100 recipes from her weekly column. Contact her at