Three Holiday Cookie Recipes

Believe it or not, you can bake up a lot of holiday treats that are still healthy…or at least relatively healthy 🙂  Here are three of my favorite recipes for easy holiday cookies.  You can use these modifications to lighten up your favorite recipes, too!

No-Bake Macaroons
makes 4 dozen

These macaroons take only 5 minutes of hands-on time!  They score healthy points thanks to the coconut oil, reduced sugar (compared to similar recipes), and unsweetened coconut.  For chocolate macaroons, stir 1/3 cup cocoa powder into the syrup once you remove it from the heat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (organic, raw sugar tastes best in this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup milk (skim, 2%, almond, coconut, etc. as desired)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (fine, large flake, or a mixture of the two)

To prepare: heat the sugar, oil, and milk in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, then stir in the vanilla, salt, and optional cocoa powder.  Stir in the coconut, then drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper, parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat. Let stand until firm (about 3 hours).

Cranberry Oatmeal Pecan Cookies
makes 4 dozen

These easy cookies always disappear before any of my friends figure out that they’re healthy.  By swapping most of the butter for applesauce and most of the sugar for stevia, these naturally whole-grain cookies are even healthy enough to eat for breakfast!  (Stevia deserves its own post, but in brief: it’s an herb that is naturally sweet and comes in both liquid and powder forms.  I recommend Stevia in the Raw packets for easy baking; the ingredients aren’t perfect, but they’re not bad either.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 packets Stevia in the Raw
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour of your choice (oats ground into flour in the food processor, whole grain pastry flour, sorghum flour, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest (optional)

To prepare: preheat the oven to 350F and prepare 2 baking sheets (line with parchment or silicone baking mats). Stir together the applesauce, butter, stevia, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.  Next, add the flour, salt, and baking soda, and stir until just combined. Finally, stir in the oats, cranberries, nuts, and zest (if using). Drop by rounded teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Rolled Gingerbread (can also be used for gingerbread houses)
makes 3 dozen 2″ cookies
needs at least one hour for dough to chill
based on Martha Stewart’s gingerbread snowflakes

These gingerbread cookies are my friends’ unconditional favorites off of my holiday cookie tray.  If you plan to make a gingerbread house, consider using all butter in place of the applesauce for a firmer cookie. Applesauce and stevia lighten appear again to lighten up these cookies; blackstrap molasses adds natural sweetness and healthy minerals.

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups flour, plus more for work surface (whole grain pastry flour, oat flour, or another flour of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 packets Stevia in the Raw
  •  2 teaspoons ground ginger
  •  2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper (black or white)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured blackstrap molasses
To prepare: Stir together the applesauce, stevia, spices, and salt.  Add in the egg and molasses and mix well. Gently mix in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder until just combined. Divide dough in half, wrap in parchment, and chill for about 1 hour in the refrigerator (this makes it easier to roll and cut). Heat the oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.  Roll out one half of the dough at a time on a floured work surface and cut into desired shapes (stars, men, trees, etc.).  Bake for 10 minutes (longer for larger cookies), then cool on wire racks.

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