Healthier holiday sweet treats

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Last month, I committed to no longer accepting the misconception that the holiday season must be about overindulgence. I also shared my strategy for making healthy choices regarding food throughout the holiday season.

Well, I kept my commitment, and my strategy was proven effective yet again! I plan on building on this success by stepping outside my comfort zone and baking healthier sweet treats for a healthier Christmas. The recipes below are my first-ever creations of healthier sweet treats, which will come in handy at parties and cookie exchanges. The first two are family favorites, and the third one is just a new spin on a classic Christmas cookie.

Healthier Peanut Butter TassiesHealthyHolidays1

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth. However, this is one treat that I can’t turn down – or put down once I start! The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is what has me hooked. Thankfully, I’m not the only one. These were a Christmas-time favorite in my household growing up, and they also got rave reviews from friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. Even better, since I created a healthier version of this recipe, my friends, family and I can indulge without doing too much damage.

This recipe uses natural peanut butter instead of regular, stevia instead of granulated and brown sugar, applesauce instead of eggs and no butter, vanilla, flour (optional) or salt.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup Stevia in the Raw
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • Optional: 1 cup flour
  • 1 bag regular or sugar-free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Sprinkles, optional

Instructions:IMG_6959

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini muffin tins with paper cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, stevia and applesauce until blended. Slowly mix in the flour (if desired).
  3. Make 1-inch-wide balls, and place into lined mini muffin tins. If the dough crumbles as you form the balls, then feel free to add a little bit of applesauce to moisten the dough.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. While muffins are in oven, unwrap peanut butter cups. When muffins come out of oven, press a peanut butter cup into each muffin, and leave them in the muffin tin on top of the stove. The tops of the peanut butter cups will melt. At that point, you can put sprinkles on them, and put the tin in the freezer so the cookies cool and peanut butter cups harden again.

Grandma’s Million-Dollar Fudge (healthier version)
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My grandmother has always claimed that cooking and baking aren’t specialties of hers and that, instead, they were playing and teaching music. However, her fudge recipe, among others, is proof that she not only can tickle the ivories but also that making treats like fudge and breads are a piece of cake to her.

Or her bread and butter.

OK, I’ll stop.

This recipe uses fat-free evaporated milk instead of regular, stevia and honey instead of sugar, coconut oil instead of butter, cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips and Baker’s chocolate bars and no marshmallow cream.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. can fat-free evaporated milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups + ⅛ cup Stevia in the Raw, divided
  • ⅛ cup + ¾ cup coconut oil, divided
  • 4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts

Instructions:

  1. In a large pan, mix evaporated milk, salt, 4 cups stevia and ⅛ cup coconut oil. Heat until boiling, and boil for 6 minutes while stirring often. Note: This will seem like too much stevia, but the milk will absorb it. Also, you’ll notice the mixture will become “clumpy.” Don’t worry about that, because, when you blend the entire mixture, the “clumpiness” will even out.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ⅛ cup stevia and ¾ cup coconut oil, cocoa powder, and honey.
  3. Add boiling mixture into the bowl, and stir well with wooden spoon. Stir with mixer until well blended and smooth. Add vanilla and walnuts.
  4. “Grease” 9×9 dish with coconut oil, and spoon mixture into dish. Smooth with plastic spatula. Cover and place in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into small squares.

Healthier Gingerbread MuffinsHealthyHolidays2

I tried really hard to make a healthier gingerbread cookie recipe, but it turns out that the healthier ingredients don’t bind together into such a formation.

This recipe includes coconut oil instead of butter, honey instead of sugar, applesauce instead of eggs/oil and black beans instead of an additional cup of flour.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1-15 oz. can black beans, rinsed, drained and mashed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • Optional: ½ tsp salt

Instructions:IMG_6972

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper cups.
  2. Melt the coconut oil. In a small bowl, mix the liquid coconut oil, molasses and honey.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the applesauce and black beans, and add the coconut oil/molasses/honey mixture.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, salt (if desired) and cinnamon, and blend with mixer.
  5. Scoop into a muffin tin, about ¾ full, and bake for 25 minutes. Cool before removing from muffin tin and serving.

charm

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