Guilt Free Holiday Cookies

By Tara Brooke | Tara's Kitchen

Dec 08

The holidays simply aren’t complete without cookies. Just the scent of these freshly baked morsels of deliciousness not only gets everybody in the mood for celebration but can also bring back great memories of merriment. However, indulging in these tasty treats can also mean putting on unwanted weight thanks to the sugar and fat content of most store-bought cookies.

Thankfully, there are healthier options available for those who still want to enjoy nibbling on these sweet treats without the added guilt. I’ve scouted for some holiday cookie recipes that you can try with your kids that not only pack a punch flavor-wise but also won’t wreck your diet:

Linda Crowley’s One Nutty Date

Sinking your teeth into these peanut butter and date cookies will surely take you down memory lane and it only has 114 calories per serving. All you need is to beat together one cup of packed light brown sugar, half a cup each of softened unsalted butter and smooth natural peanut butter, and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon until well mixed. Add to this one large egg and one teaspoon vanilla until well combined. This will be followed by the addition of one and a half cups of flour, half a teaspoon each of baking powder, baking soda, and salt. When well mixed, stir in eight ounces each of chopped, pitted dates, and 1/3 cups of chopped walnuts. Refrigerate for at least an hour before baking.

When ready, simply scoop about 1 3/8 to 1 ½ inch balls of dough two inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet and placed in a preheated 375°F oven, and bake for eight to ten minutes  or until the edges are lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack completely.

Finally, combine eight ounces of white chocolate chips and one tablespoon of canola oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook on medium and stir every thirty seconds until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Drizzle this on top of the cookies.

Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies

For just 54 calories per serving, the spice and tang of these cookies will truly inspire holiday cheer in anybody. Simply combine and cook over medium heat 1 ½ cups of sweetened, dried cranberries as well as 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup of honey, 2 teaspoons of freshly grated orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom or all spice in a non-reactive saucepan for four to five minutes. Let cool slightly and puree in a food processor. If the mixture looks dry, add up to two teaspoons of water. Refrigerate in a non-reactive container.

For the dough, whisk together 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each of baking soda and ground cardamom or all spice.

In another large bowl, mix 1/3 cup canola oil,  ½ teaspoons of cooled melted butter, 1 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons of low fat milk, 2 1/2 teaspoons of freshly grated orange zest, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and ½ teaspoon of almond extract. Beat this with an electric mixer on low and then increase the speed until well combined. Stir up to 1 tablespoon of milk if the dough is too dry. Let it rest in the refrigerator for thirty to forty five minutes.

Divide the dough into two and shape each one into a six-inch long log. Place on a 16-inch sheet of baking paper, cover with a second sheet and roll out into a 12 by 15 inch rectangle. Do the same for the other half of the dough. Freeze for about fifteen minutes.

Place a sheet of dough on a working surface and peel off the top sheet of baking paper then spread half of the filling over the dough. Take a 15-inch side and tightly roll the dough like a jelly-roll. Stretch out the center of the log to ensure that it is even. Wrap in a clean baking sheet and twist the end to prevent the log dough from unrolling and place on a cookie sheet. Do the same for the other batch of dough. Freeze until firm for three to four hours.

Trim the uneven ends of the roll and cut it crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices using a large serrated knife. Turn the roll periodically to maintain the round cookie sheet. Place these on a cookie sheet with half an inch separating each one. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes in a 350°F oven.

Cool on a rack completely.

Chocolate Coconut Meringues

These cookies are light, airy, and perfectly crisp. What’s more, these little treats only have 36 calories a serving. To make, whisk four large egg whites, a quarter teaspoon each of cream of tartar, coconut extract, almond extract, and vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until well combined. Gradually add a cup of sugar, two tablespoons at a time and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form (about six to eight minutes).

Sift in a quarter of a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. Gently fold until well combined.

Spoon the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch round piping tip. Pipe two-inch circles half an inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake in a 250°F oven for fifty minutes. Turn off the heat and leave them inside until completely dry for about an hour and a half.

Drizzle with melted semisweet and white chocolate. Let stand until it sets.

I hope you try making these deliciously guilt free holiday cookies and sharing them with friends and family. If you would like to find more recipes, go to Delish.com.

Happy Holidays!

XO

Tara

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