Making Healthy Treats for the Holidays


With Christmas just a few days away, here's a special television segment about three very simple healthy treats you can make for your family and friends this holiday season.

This week Monica Sayler with Albertson's in Billings, MT jointed KTVQ's Angela Douglas and Rob Griggs plus the Northern Ag Network's Russell Nemetz for a “live” cooking demonstration.

There are minor substitutions and changes you can make to some cookie mixes that may affect calorie count and make your holiday treats healthier. But experimentation is going to be the key and it may not work with every recipe.

Here are some basic suggestions:

■Switch out white flour for white whole wheat flour;

■Make smaller portions;

■Use egg whites instead of the whole egg;

■Reduce the amount of sugar called for in the recipe

■Substitute chocolate chips for nuts;


Almond Snowballs

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 18 snowballs (small scoop) 9 snowballs (large scoop)


■2 egg whites

■Pinch coarse or Kosher salt

■1/3 cup sugar, eyeball it

■1 1/2 cups, about 6 ounces, shredded coconut

■1 teaspoon almond extract, eyeball it

■1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg

■3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

■9 candied red cherries, halved

■1/4 cup sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt to soft peaks, then add sugar and beat again until peaks are stiff. Beat in almond flavoring. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in half of the coconut. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and flour, stir, and then fold in the remaining coconut.

Using a melon baller or other small scoop, or working with 2 spoons, form 9 “snowballs” a couple of inches apart on each of 2 cookie sheets. Bake snowballs 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden.

Remove from oven and garnish each snowball with half a cherry and a couple of slivered almonds.

Transfer to a rack or serving plate to cool.

No Bake Chewy Truffle Cookies

Prep Time: 20 min.

These chewy sweet cookies start with dried dates for a natural sweetness, instead of the traditional combination of milk and sugar, and then get mixed with some cocoa, reduced-fat peanut butter and ground whole wheat graham crackers for a quick satisfying treat.


■1 cup dried pitted dates, 4-ounces, chopped

■1 cup water

■1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

■2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup

■2 tablespoons reduced-fat or no-stir natural chunky peanut butter

■2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

■1 tablespoon unsalted butter

■1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

■8 full sheets whole wheat graham crackers, finely ground, about 1 1/4 cups

■1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, not instant

■Cooking spray

For coating: unsweetened coconut flakes, crushed graham crackers, finely chopped peanuts, low-fat granola, about 1/2 cup of each, optional


Combine the dates, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat breaking up any large pieces of dates with a spoon, until the mixture resembles a thick paste, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the honey, peanut butter, cocoa powder, butter and salt until evenly combined. Stir in the graham crackers and oats. Remove from heat.

Lightly mist a baking sheet with cooking spray. Drop level tablespoons of the cookie mixture onto the prepared pan. Refrigerate until just chilled and set, about 20 minutes.

Put desired optional toppings in small bowls. Roll each cookie in desired topping and flatten slightly into a plump disk. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Serve chilled.

What goes perfectly with a good cookie? How about a steaming cup of hot cocoa? But in this instance we're going to make Maple Cocoa.

Maple syrup is one of a wholesome-cooking cook's best-kept weapons in avoiding refined sugar. It not only adds a punch of sweetness, but that special almost-smoky maple taste adds incredible depth to baked goods and sweets that are hearty in flavor (meaning, great with chocolate and nutty things, not so good for angel food cake). This one is nice with the neutral flavors of regular dairy, but you can use any alternative milk you'd like as well.

Maple Cocoa


■1 cup milk

■2 tablespoons cocoa

■1 tablespoon maple syrup

■1 teaspoons vanilla extract

■1 pinch of salt


Combine ingredients in a medium pot and warm on medium-low heat, whisking until frothy and hot.


Source: KTVQ

Posted by Northern Ag Network

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