New Holiday Traditions: Healthier Goodies

'Tis the season, you guys. The season for new holiday traditions.

For as long as I can remember, my family has always baked and made a ton of goodies around the holidays. It used to be a huge thing. An all-day event with my mom and my sister. And, then, when I moved to NYC, I carried on the tradition alone and then later with Mr. T. But this year, the usual recipes for goodies just won't work. Mr. T and I wanted to try to stick with our healthy lifestyle. So things with tons of butter, sugar, oil, and so on just wouldn't work.

At first it kind of made me sad. And I was really afraid that it wouldn't feel like Christmas. But it turns out, it was actually kind of awesome. We had fun and I actually liked not having such intense goodies to make.

Here's what we made. And I'm totally sorry for the lack of measurements.

Side note: I'm not saying these treats are totally healthy. But I feel they were a good blend of indulging in yummy goodness and still being on my healthy plan.

Christmas Crunch

I got this idea from Pinterest. And it's super easy. I don't have measurements because it really just depends on your taste.

I used:

  • Sprinkles
  • Marshmallow fluff
  • Popcorn
  • Butter (only a couple of tablespoons)
  • A few dashes of salt
  • Dried cranberries
  • Honey roasted peanuts
  • Dark chocolate chips

And  here's what I did:

  1. Pop the popcorn in the air popper according to manufacture directions.
  2. Melt butter in microwave.
  3. Once popcorn is done, spread onto a foil lined cookie sheet.
  4. Drizzle butter over popcorn.
  5. Add all ingredients except marshmallow fluff. And mix.
  6. Melt marshmallow fluff in microwave. Drizzle over popcorn.

We made this a few days ahead of time and I actually think it would be better the day of r maybe if you make it the night before. Regardless, it was tasty.

Applesauce oat cookies

These were adapted from my mom's recipe.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup olive oil (instead of 1 cup shortening)
  • 6 TB maple syrup (instead of1/2 cup sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour (minus about 3 TB to make up for the maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cups oatmeal
  • A couple handfuls of golden raisins
  • A couple handfuls of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce (made using this recipe
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda

And here are the instructions:

Mix the oil and the sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add the applesauce and mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients except oats (you can just mix them together with a whisk in a bowl). Then add the dry to the wet and mix well. Stir in oats, raisins, and dried cranberries. Drop from teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

A couple of notes: Maple syrup makes the cookies brown faster, so don't be too alarmed if they look done fast. Ours took about 13 minutes. When I put the dough on the pan it seemed runny, almost like a no bake cookie. But they baked just fine.

Black bean brownies

Which apparently I don't have a picture of.

We used this recipe and doubled it. They were delicious, but not quite fudgey enough so I'm going to add some chocolate chips the next time.

Peppermint bark

I adapted my own recipe from previous years.

I used:

  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1-2 TB peppermint extract

And here's the instructions:

  1. Just combine the chocolate chips and oil in a pan.
  2. Let melt for a bit.
  3. Add the peppermint extract one tablespoon at a time, until it tastes delicious and minty. You can use more or less depending on your taste.
  4. Spread onto a foil lined pan.
  5. Cover with sprinkles.
  6. Put in the freezer until it's hard and break into pieces.

Chex mix

Which I also don't have a picture of.

This is my grandma's recipe and the only thing I adapted was the things that I use (she used shredded wheat and mixed nuts in hers).

I do most of this from memory because I've been doing it for so long. But here's what I used this year:

  • 1 box cheerios
  • 1 box Chex
  • 1 bag waffle pretzels
  • 1 bag pretzel sticks
  • 1 bag cashews
  • 1 bag peanuts
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoned salt
  • Worcestershire sauce

And here's what I did:

  1. Put all ingredients into roaster.
  2. I started with about 1/2 cup of olive oil and drizzled that over the ingredients. Then I covered the top with seasonings and mixed it all up. I added a bit more olive oil and seasonings. You just want everything to be coated nice and well.
  3. Then just bake in the oven at 250 degrees, stirring every 15-20 minutes.

You seriously can't mess this stuff up with amounts or ingredients so you can add anything you like. And if you add a little too much oil or seasonings, just add some more ingredients. Trust me, it totally works.

We took most of this batch to Mr. T's family and everything was a total hit. I'm excited to make more for our Christmas.