Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Healthier Holiday Cookies

Who says the holiday season means you have to throw your diet/healthy lifestyle out the window?

Yes, I will admit, celebrations tend to equal sweets and treats, and my household is no exception.  The key here, people, is moderation... and modification...

We've all heard the moderation thing before.  That's right... leave that 14th cookie on the platter and have a glass of water... your straining waistband will thank you.  At least I know mine will.

But, modification?  Ok, so that's kind of a "Raye-ism", but the idea has been around forever. Take a few favorite recipes and modify them to make them healthier.

Warning:  this does not give you license to make 17 batches of "healthier" cookies...unless you REALLY like cookies...  They still have calories and sugar and should still be "treats".  The upside is that instead of 17 batches of calorie-dense, sugar-laced cavity-inducers (but what a way to go, right?), you'll have 17 batches of semi-healthy treats you won't feel guilty after eating or sharing with loved ones.

For example, these pumpkin cookies are a welcome addition to any holiday dinner, party, potluck or cookie exchange. At only 71 calories per serving (2 smallish cookies per serving), I know I won't be feeling guilty afterward. In fact, I was feeling so 'not guilty' that I must confess we polished off the entire batch before I remembered to take pictures!  But not in one sitting, I promise. Ooops... I'll take pretty pics next time and post again.

Update:  Here's the photos I promised! Only took me 10 months to remember to take pictures.  :)

Anyway, feel free to spice it up a little by adding in chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts.  Or, take it one step backward and drizzle a little melted chocolate or powdered sugar glaze on top.  Or for the ultimate sinfulness, top with cream cheese frosting.

Or, stick with the original version and repeat "71 calories, 71 calories, 71 calories..." while pulling out your cookie sheets for the 17th time.

Pumpkin Cookies

by Raye
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes per pan

Ingredients (20 small cookies)
  • 3/4 cup solid pack canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins, optional
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts, optional
Preheat oven to 375* F.
Prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Beat together the pumpkin, maple syrup, and sucanat or brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add egg; beat until fully combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts if using.
Spoon batter onto prepared cookie sheets (the cookies won't spread much, so you're safe to put them close together on the cookie sheets).
Bake about 10 minutes, or until cookies are dry to the touch. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note, a serving size is 2 cookies. Nutrition facts were calculated without chocolate chips, raisins or nuts.
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