Being in a job search mode over the holiday season can be challenging since most prospective employers/clients are on a hiring hiatus.
So, rather than fret about my job search this holiday season, I decided to suspend my worry for a couple of weeks, get creative and have fun baking a bunch of Christmas cookies and treats!
Keeping it Healthy
My husband and I try to steer away from refined sugar and flour, so I started researching healthy cookie recipes online and I found several great options (listed below). In total, I made 11 batches of cookies plus one batch of sweet & spicy nuts with no sugar or white flour! Several of the recipes have gluten-free and dairy-free options.
Before cranking up my oven, however, I realized I needed one key piece of equipment that, up to now, I had been reluctant to buy – a food processor – thinking it would set me back over a hundred dollars. Luckily, I found a great bargain at Walmart on a Black & Decker model for $25.
With my recipes printed out, my food processor washed and assembled, and my unemployment fear at bay, I set to work on my cookies!
Christmas Cookies 2017
The first (1) recipe I tried was for a gluten-free biscotti with pistachios and dried cranberries from Amy Green: http://amygreen.me/pistachio-cranberry-biscotti/. This was not a great success for me and I attribute it to not ever having made biscotti before (i.e., user inexperience) – and also because I substituted some gluten-free flour for the flour mix listed in the recipe. Although my biscotti didn’t have a great flavor and it didn’t cut easily, it was festive-looking and some of my family liked it well enough!
Next, I made several recipes from Megan Gilmore at https://detoxinista.com/ including:
(2) The Healthiest Cookies Ever – I made 2 batches, one with chocolate chips and one without.
All of these recipes were good but my husband and I liked “The Healthiest Cookies Ever” the best.
Over the next few days, I moved on to these recipes:
(5) The Ultimate Healthy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies – I wanted to make some traditional, Christmas cut-out cookies and these worked great! I used lemon extract instead of butter extract, which gave these cookies a delicate, delicious flavor and I nixed the vanilla crème stevia. I also made 2 batches, one with a light frosting decoration (for my granddaughter) and the other plain (for my husband).
(6) Vegan and Healthy Thumbprint Cookies – I used white whole wheat flour instead of straight whole wheat and I nixed the coconut sugar.
(7) Orange Spice Bliss Balls – I found this recipe thanks my yoga friend and owner of WholeHeart Yoga in Portland ME, Pam Jackson. These are delicious, no-bake cookie balls.
The weekend before Christmas, I still had some ingredients I wanted to combine together – chocolate chips, walnuts, dried cranberries and coconut – into a festive cookie bar. So, I consulted with my twin sister Karen, who has been baking healthy treats for years. She had just the right recipe:
(8) Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars – Because I had unsweetened coconut milk on hand, I substituted it for the sweetened condensed milk, but I don’t recommend it… The coconut milk was too watery and I ended up having to bake the cookies about twice as long. Still, they looked festive and they weren’t overly sweet since the only sweetness was from the chocolate chips.
With all of these goodies stored in my freezer and ready to be “plattered” for the holiday, I still felt like I was missing something… soft gingerbread cookies. (Although I had already made grain-free ginger cookies, they weren’t the soft gingerbread texture I was looking for.) So, I turned to this recipe:
(9) Soft-Baked Ginger Cookies – I used white whole wheat flour instead of straight whole wheat.
These 11 batches of healthy cookies made up my holiday desert platter:
For one more healthy treat (#12!), I made a batch of Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts, which I served during the holiday and gave away as a gift (pictured on the left above).
While I may never have the time or wherewithal to bake like this again, my 12 days of Christmas Cookies in 2017 was a great gift to myself and my family.