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Crave: Healthy Holiday Cookies!

healthy holiday cookies

Image thanks to chlsgraphy

Ah, the holidays are upon us.
The time of year for lights, festivities, and (most importantly) cookies.
They will be handed off by your neighbors, hanging out around the office, and decorating dishes at just about any holiday party.
They are simply an institution this time of year.
With that in mind, I decided to round up a few cookie recipes that will tickle your tastebuds and tempt your tummy, without derailing your diet.
So, enjoy a little sweetness…

Mini Date-Nut Snowballs:

These little wonders aren’t exactly cookies, as they don’t require baking (but doesn’t that make them even better?). They are however sweet and delicious and 6 pieces are only 100 calories. Courtesy of Ellie Krieger from the Food Network .

1 ½  tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
3 ½  ounces pitted dried dates (about 14)
15 small raw almonds
¼  teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
Spread the coconut on a plate. Put the dates, almonds, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
Form rounded ½ teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls with your fingers, then roll in the coconut, pressing to coat.

Gingerbread Cookies:

No cookie (in my opinion) is as representative of the holiday season as a good old-fashioned gingerbread cookie. Delicious and spiced, and oh-so-fun to decorate. Recipe thanks to everydayhealth.com.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
⅓ cup dark molasses
1½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1½ cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, honey, and applesauce until smooth.
Add the egg and molasses, mixing well.
In another large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and spices. Add to sugar and molasses mixture, stirring well.
Divide the dough into two flat balls; cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Generously dust the surface of your working area with flour before rolling out the dough. Work with one ball of dough at a time, keeping the other portion refrigerated. Roll out the dough to ¼- to ⅛-inch thickness; sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough if it’s sticky. Cut the gingerbread with cookie cutters of your choice.
Place the cookies 1 to 2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Lighter Chocolate Chip Cookies:

You can never go wrong with simple chocolate chip cookies. This recipe from the Food Network ups the health factor by adding rolled oats, wheat flour, and cutting back on the fat.
1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a food processor and pulse until the oats are finely ground. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and agave nectar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth and glossy. Reduce mixer speed to the lowest setting and gradually add the flour mixture until just incorporated; stir in the chocolate.
Drop level tablespoons of the dough onto foil lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (12 cookies per sheet). Transfer the sheets to the refrigerator and chill the cookies until solid, about 30 minutes. Bake until lightly golden around edges, about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool on the sheets for 1 minute; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Do you have any favorite healthy holiday cookies? Let us know…