Happy December everyone! It’s the crazy time of year where everyone is struggling to get everything done before Christmas, while at the same time trying to slow down long enough to savour and enjoy the holiday season. Me included.
I already have recipes on my site that can help you and your family eat healthy during this magical, but hectic season. For quick and easy lunches, try making a big batch of Overnight Kale Salad and a big bowl of Roasted Chickpeas to sprinkle on top. Prepare breakfast ahead of time by making some Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. And if all else fails, a Green Smoothie is always a good bet for a nutrient filled meal on-the-go.
Today I’m going to slow things down with revamp of a seasonal favourite. So put down your shopping list, turn on some Christmas music (Mariah Carey’s Christmas album is always my recommendation), grab your kids and your apron, and let’s bake some Christmas cookies.
In my last post, I wrote about how important it is to avoid completely restricting your kids from treats and forbidden foods. However, like I talked about on Halloween, we also need to recognize that the balance of nutritious food to treats is WAY off in our society. Treats are no longer eaten once in a while, but on an everyday basis, and most treats contain an odd assortment of chemicals and other non-food additives. These ingredients are not treats – they are toxins. If we want the next generation of kids to be healthy and to have a healthy relationship with Real Food, we as parents (and friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents) of these kids need to be part of the change. This means, cooking and serving them as much Real Food as possible. And if we’re going to bake and serve treats ourselves, why not make them with Real Food instead of the processed, GMO-laden ingredients that they are going to get in most holiday cookies and desserts?
It took a couple of trials for me to perfect these Gingerbread Cookies. I wanted to develop a cookie that doesn’t contain boatloads of sugar, is limited in processed ingredients and actually has some nutrients (bonus!) All while remaining a “treat” and a respectable Gingerbread Cookie that is unrecognizable as a “healthy alternative”(unlike my Healthy Snack Cookies which could be eaten for breakfast) . I think I achieved all of this with this recipe:
Real Food Gingerbread Cookies
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Yield: 22-27 cookies (depending on size)
3 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
3/4 cup date paste (see this post for more info on this ingredient)
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar*
1/3 cup organic blackstrap molasses (not regular molasses)**
3 cups spelt flour (plus extra for dusting)***
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (optional)
1. Put the first 4 ingredients (and fresh ginger if using) into a large bowl (or stand mixer) and beat until well combined. I just used a hand mixer.
2. Add molasses and mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir together until well mixed.
5. The dough mixture is going to VERY sticky at this point. Don’t panic. Do your best to scrape as much of it from the bowl and divide it into two flat balls.
6. Put the balls back into the bowl, cover with saran wrap and put back in the fridge. Let it chill for 2-3 hours.
7. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover your work surface with a generous amount of spelt flour.
8. Remove one of the dough balls from the fridge (keep the other one refrigerated until you need it) and roll it out with a rolling-pin to about 1/4 or 1/8 thickness (if you make them too thin, the cookies will be crispy instead of soft so be careful)
9. Cut with cookie cutter of your choice and place onto a baking sheet.
10. Roll remaining dough into a ball and put back in the fridge. Repeat above steps with other ball of dough, and keep alternating until all the dough is gone.
10. Bake for 10-12 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven). The key here is to take them out before they are fully cooked! This is the difference between a soft, moist, chewy gingerbread cookie and a crispy gingersnap.
11. Let cool before eating.
12. Store in a sealed container (if they last that long!)
*Coconut palm sugar is much less processed than regular sugar, plus it contains some nutrients. It is lower on the glycemic index scale, but at the end of the day it is still sugar and is a treat. See more info here.
**Blackstrap molasses has a similar story. Less processed, lower glycemic index and it retains the nutrients stripped from sugar cane so it really high in iron and other minerals.
***Spelt in an ancient grain that has conserved more of its nutrients than conventional wheat hybrids. Some people with wheat sensitivities can tolerate spelt. I’m also a big advocate of variety when it comes to grains. It’s easy to find – I got it at Bulk Barn.
These turned out even better than I imagined. I tested out the yum factor by sending a bunch to Jon’s work. They all loved them before knowing that they were a healthier version, and one of them is even a chef. Phew! I brought some into my office too and my co-workers raved about the chewy consistency.
I should tell you that I made a bit of a baking blunder when it came to icing. I used the same coconut cream frosting that I did for Tyson’s birthday cupcakes, not thinking about the fact that it only stayed hard when in the fridge. So they ended up smearing when I put them in a container on the counter. Whoops! I’ve told you I’m not a baker.
Just for comparison’s sake, I went online to check out the ingredients of the cute little gingerbread cookies that I saw at Williams Sonoma the other day:
Sugar, enriched unbleached flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin,
reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), honey, eggs,
unsalted butter (from milk), invert sugar, palm oil, palm kernel oil, cinnamon,
baking soda, ginger, vanilla, caramel color, salt, soy lecithin, allspice,
cloves, orange zest, natural flavors, artificial food colors (yellow 5 & 6,
red 3 & 40, blue 1 & 2, titanium dioxide), cream of tartar, cellulose
I highly doubt there is anything real about caramel color, natural flavours, and artificial food colors. Plus, with sugar being the first ingredient I would bet on the fact that it has way more than the 1/2 cup that my cookies do. Homemade cookies for the win.
Hopefully I’ve given you enough time to make these before Christmas. You will definitely feel good knowing that one of your kids’ holiday treats is a little more real.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!