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The holidays create special memories, especially around food. Not only enjoying the dishes and treats, but making them together allows for an extra special experience. Try these dietitian-approved holiday treats that double as fun family activities!

Decadent Healthy Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp powdered sugar for topping

Kitchen Equipment:

  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • 8×8 baking pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir well with a whisk until ingredients are evenly combined and brown sugar is broken up.
  3. Add eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla, stirring just to combine and being careful not to over-mix.
  4. Pour batter into an ungreased 8×8 pan. Bake for about 28-33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean with just a few crumbs (baking longer, to get a completely clean toothpick, will yield drier, more cake-like brownies).
  5. Remove pan to a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle brownies with powdered sugar. You can use a sifter to sprinkle powdered sugar over the brownies. Allow to cool before cutting.

Make it fun!

Use holiday-shaped cookie cutters for a fun treat!

Thread a skewer or large toothpick alternating fresh fruit (such as strawberries, blueberries or pineapple chunks) with small brownie squares. Who doesn’t love fruit and chocolate together?

 

Candy Cane Meringue Drops

Ingredients:

  • ½ C aquafaba (brine from the can of garbanzo beans)
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • ⅔ C granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
  • Decorations such as crushed candy canes or sugar sprinkles (optional)

Equipment:

  • Hand mixer
  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large piping bag

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 210F and line three cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
  2. Drain can of chickpeas, reserving the liquid. This is called aquafaba. Set beans aside for another use.
  3. Add ½ C of aquafaba and cream of tartar to bowl and mix on low until foamy.
  4. Gradually increase mixer speed until mix becomes white, glossy, and stiff peaks form (about 6-8 minutes).
  5. Set the mixer on high and slowly add 1 tbsp. of sugar at a time. Make sure to whip meringue at least 20 seconds between each addition.
  6. Whip until meringue is stiff and glossy and then add peppermint extract. Keep whipping until extract is fully incorporated.
  7. Fill a large piping bag with meringue*. Squeeze meringue onto prepared baking sheets into 1 ½ inch dollups, spaced ½ inch apart. Sprinkle decorations on top, if desired.
  8. Bake for 75 minutes, rotating half way through. Then leave the oven door open for 45-60 minutes to air dry.
  9. Place meringues in an airtight container and store in a cool location.

*If you do not have a piping bag, make your own!  Fill a resealable plastic bag, cut the corner and squeeze meringue onto baking sheet.

Note: If you would like to add color to your meringues, use a few drops of natural food dye such as pomegranate or beet juice.  Be careful to not add too much coloring as it can thin out your meringue and firm peaks will not form.

 

Wholesome Cat Treats

(make some holiday treats for your pets, too!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (5 oz.) can tuna, no salt added and packed in water, drained
  • 1 cup oat flour*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried catnip*To make your own oat flour, add old-fashioned oats to a food processor (before adding other recipe ingredients) and pulse down until it is transformed into a light powder. Or grind old-fashioned oats in a spice grinder (or a super clean coffee grinder).

Directions:

1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, combine drained tuna, oat flour, egg, olive oil and catnip. Blend until mixture is smooth. It will be thick but pliable and not terribly sticky.

3. Roll out dough onto a floured surface (you can use more oat flour to do this) to approximately ¼” thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your cat’s favorite shape. I use a fish cookie cutter that I purchased from Amazon.

4. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until they are dried on top and slightly browned. Allow to cool completely before offering to your kitty.

Place treats in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to seven days or freeze for up to 6 months.

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