Healthy holiday treats

We are smack in the middle of the holiday season.  And special holiday treats are part of the season’s charm. Everyone looks forward to special goodies. But these foods often come with a high calorie punch. Here are a few tips for creating healthier versions.

  • Use low-fat dairy. Whole milk products are sources of saturated fat. Yes, fat is not the villain is once was.  But one can overdo it. Using low-fat, skim milk, fat-free evaporated milk, and fat-free sweetened condensed milk can yield as mouth-watering a product as full-fat dairy. This is also true for the low-fat versions of sour cream. Plain Greek yogurt is a tasty substitute for sour cream in twice-baked potatoes and casseroles. I have used fat-free yogurt to replace half of the fat in coffee cake recipes with pleasing results.
  • Substitute egg whites for yolks. I have nothing against whole eggs. There is research that indicates healthy people can enjoy eggs several times a week with no ill effects. But at this time of year, we can go way over our allotment with all the egg-containing goodies around. With that in mind, two egg whites can be used in place of a whole egg, or use the egg substitutes in the dairy case.
  • Replace chocolate chips with dried fruit. Raisins, chopped dates, and cranberries offer flavors of their own and add a chewy texture. If you must add the chips, reduce the amount or add mini chips to spread the flavor throughout the product.
  • Create healthy dips to replace the sour cream types. Hummus, salsa, corn relish, and bean dips are more healthful choices than sour cream versions.
  • Watch those portions. Eat half of the special treat and share the other half or save for later. This is a helpful tactic during the holidays or at any special event.
  • Choose nuts for a healthy snack. Although high in fat, nuts contain fiber and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. An appropriate serving size for nuts is one-quarter cup.

Most importantly, enjoy time with family and friends during this holiday season.



Peanut powder

A few months ago I made an unplanned, spontaneous purchase at the grocery store.  Yes, this is not recommended–we are all told to stick to a list.  But I was feeling a bit sassy that day.

My extra purchase was a jar of powdered peanuts.  I had read quite a bit of hype about this product and wanted to see if powdered peanuts warranted this reputation.

The product is just that–powdered peanuts. This particular brand has no added anything and claims to be non-GMO.  So far, so good.  It tastes dry right out of the jar, of course, being powder.  It has a peanut taste but without the pizzazz of peanut butter.  The fat has been removed which may account for the flatter taste.

With six grams of protein per two tablespoons, this does offer a way to increase protein by adding the powder to a smoothie, hot or cold cereal, rice cereal squares, or baked goods such as pancakes, breads, or muffins.

So going with my sassy attitude, I decided to make some cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies, at that.  Not knowing what effect the powder would have on my recipe, I decided to be conservative and added only two tablespoons.

Well, the cookies turned out great!  Quite yummy and with a nice mix of peanut butter flavor plus dark chocolate.

If you would like to try he cookies, here is the recipe.

Better Eating Peanut Choco Chip Cookies

  • ½ cup margarine (I used Smart Beat)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs (or equivalent of egg substitute)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3  cups all purpose flour (or use half whole wheat, half all purpose)
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream margarine and sugars till well blended.  Mix in eggs.  Add vanilla and cinnamon, blending well.  In a separate bowl, measure out flour(s), oats, soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  Stir ingredients well.  Slowly add to wet ingredients, mixing till well blended.   Add chocolate chips.  Drop by walnut-size spoonfuls onto greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 9 – 10 minutes.  Depending on the size of your “walnuts”  you will have 5 to 6 dozen cookies.

Good Luck!