December 16, 2008

Healthy(ish) Christmas Cookies: Part 1

One of my favorite Christmas cookies is a recipe my grandma used to make every year. She called them Christmas Nut Balls and they are a simple combination of chocolate, nuts and plenty of sugar.

The thing is, I'd like to say, oh it's Christmastime, eat whatever, 'tis the season blah blah blah. But Max and I are going to Puerto Rico in a few weeks! So I'm really extra not interested in gaining holiday weight. And anyway, I've been cooking so much healthy stuff for us the past year, I'm just going to convert my favorite cookie recipes to something I'm willing to actually eat! Not that they'll be low fat or actually turn into magical health food, but... Anyway, here was the 3 step process I used to convert the recipe.

1. Replace. Whole grain flours replaced 100% of the white flour in this recipe. I just guessed with the spelt flour but it totally worked. And I replaced all of the brown sugar with pure maple syrup. The original recipe was always a little too dry so this 1:1 substitution actually improved things.

2. Eliminate. I cut the amount of white sugar and chocolate chips in half because there was enough sweetness in this recipe. Why overdo it?

3. Add value. I added fresh, healthy cranberries.

My grandma's Christmas Nut Ball have now successfully morphed into:
Christmas Cranberry Nut Balls
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
6 oz. organic chocolate chips
6 oz. fresh cranberries, chopped
1 1/2 cups organic butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup pure organic maple syrup
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups spelt flour
about 1/3 cup organic cane sugar or other granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Let butter softened in large mixing bowl.
Add maple syrup and vanilla, blend well. Mix in flours, one cup at a
time. Add chocolate chips, pecans and cranberries. At this point I
usuallly use my hands to mix everything evenly. Roll dough into small
balls, about 1" in diameter. Bake for 45 minutes on ungreased cookie
sheets. When cool, roll tops of cookies into a small bowl of
granulated sugar to coat.

I'm entering these into The Nourishing Gourmet's Nourishing Sweets and Treats Carnival and Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies (enter here).


Susan from Food Blogga said...

There is something so Christmassy about cranberry cookies, and yours look positively festive. You can't be grandma's cookies. :)

Sarah said...

Yum! These look fantastic!


Not Another Omnivore said...

Thanks for the pizza link, I've added it to the collage that is my blog!



Anonymous said...

I like the three cookie-makeover guidelines. Smart stuff, that.

Sandy Smith said...

These are gorgeous! I'm always on the lookout for cookies that I can add to my kids' lunches in good conscience, and these fit the bill! Plus, cranberries rock!

Thanks ~ and enjoy your holidays!

Michelle said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone! Happy baking and enjoy the snow if you are in the NE this weekend...