• Healthy holiday baking

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    Close up of home made spritz sugar cookies topped with sprinkes of sugar.
    Betsy Wild
    I have been passionate about good health and protecting the environment since the early 1970’s and am eager to share my knowledge. I am convinced that even the smallest change you make can make a big difference – for you, the earth and your pocketbook.
    Betsy Wild

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    Healthy holiday baking

    By Betsy Wild

    What’s the holiday season without cookies, cakes, candies and other unhealthy treats!  Baking holiday goodies is part of the tradition, and a perfect family activity. While I totally believe in a little splurging, there are healthy baking substitutes where no one will know the difference.  I’ll skip the tip about substituting black beans and dates in place of chocolate when making brownies!  (However, if it sounds appealing, email me and I’ll send you the recipe – my husband loves them!)

    Use coconut oil in all recipes calling for butter, shortening or vegetable oil.   It’s an ideal all-purpose cooking oil and has 100% less cholesterol than butter.   It contains the same medium-chain fatty acids found in mother’s milk essential to optimum health and disease prevention.

    • Olive oil is a good cooking oil too and makes a delicious, guilt-free dessert.
    • Substitute flours made from nuts and healthy whole grains, like almond meal walnut meal or quinoa, considered one of the world’s healthiest foods due to its high nutritive value, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Nuts are super high in Omega 3’s, the right fats your body and brain needs.
    • For recipes calling for peanut butter, try healthier almond butter instead.
    • For a more nutritious sweetener, use honey, agave, maple syrup, molasses or organic cane sugar instead of refined white sugar.
    • Use almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
    • When baking with chocolate, try chocolate with at least 60% cocoa powder– it’s healthier and rich in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.  Organic is preferable too!  (Cocoa powder is chocolate pressed free of the fat of cocoa butter.)
    • Moisten cakes and cookies with applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed pumpkin for extra nutrition.  Add nuts, dates, and other dried fruits to your baked goods.
    • Nutrient-rich chia seeds are a good thickener and make a yummy pudding!

    Feel a little better indulging this holiday season with some of these baking tips.  Email me your healthy ideas too!  Have fun!

    Listed below are three simple recipes for healthier holiday treats.

    Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

    INGREDIENTS:

    2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing (don’t use extra virgin)

    6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

    1/2 cup boiling water

    2 teaspoons best vanilla extract

    1 1/2 cups almond meal (flour) or 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    pinch salt

    1 cup superfine sugar (or organic can sugar)

    eggs

    1 X 9-inch springform cake pan

     

    DIRECTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the pan with a little oil and line the base with parchment paper.

    Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or pitcher and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolaty, just runny, paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

    In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.

    Put the sugar, olive oil, and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes, until you have a pale-primrose, aerated, and thickened cream.

    Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in, you can slowly tip in the almond meal (or all-purpose flour) mixture.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

    Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the pan. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm. Delicious with ice cream too!

     

    Coconut Cookies

    INGREDIENTS:

    3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups grated or shredded coconut, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups coconut oil, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

    DIRECTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  Blend coconut oil, eggs, sugar, and almond extract.  Mix wet and dry ingredients together.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Flatten balls to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until pale tan. Transfer to wire racks to cool.  Each cookie contains 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil.

     

    Date Balls

    Simple to make and just as satisfying as a usual holiday cookie, date balls are perfect to bring to a party.  They are a great energizing snack too!

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 cups raw almonds
    6  dates
    1 – 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (add 1 tsp at a time until there is a light vanilla flavor)
    1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional to roll balls in after; sesame seeds are good too)

    DIRECTIONS:

    In a food processor outfitted with an “S” blade, or a heavy-duty blender, process almonds until coarsely ground. Add the dates and extract and process until mixture sticks together. Form the mixture into tablespoon size balls and roll in coconut or sesame seeds.

    From deliciouslivingnutrition.com.

    For more green living tips, go to greenwithbetsy.com.

    January 12, 2015