Holiday baking season is upon us – brace yourselves

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Every winter, ovens are preheated and baked goods are made, warming one’s home to swell with delicious and savory food. When making these delicious recipes, calorie, fat and carbohydrate counts are often thrown out the window. Well, for all those health gurus out there who still like to keep their diets in check during holiday season or for those just looking for the less-is-more alternatives this baking season, here are some recipes for you.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips, or chunks

This recipe is an oldie, but goodie. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir all of the ingredients together in a large bowl except for the chocolate chips. Make sure all of the ingredients have been well mixed and that there aren’t any powder pockets within the mixture. Once fully mixed, stir in the chocolate chips.

When thoroughly combined, place 1-inch balls of cookie dough onto cookie sheets. Fill up cookie sheets and place into the oven. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

These are the perfect cookies that offer incredible consistency and texture. Perfect for those who want to gift treats or just want to make their house smell like a home. Adaptable by anyone, this is a simple recipe that doesn’t require a full-bodied mixer or even a hand mixer. It is also much better, nutritionally, for people than the prepackaged cookie dough found in any grocery store.

This recipe yields two to three dozen cookies. Per cookie, there are 60 calories, 2.7 grams of fat and 8 grams of carbohydrates. In pre-packaged cookie dough, there are on average 120 calories, 6 grams of fat and 17 grams of carbohydrates per each ounce of the cookie dough. Eaten in moderation, these homemade cookies are actually a sweet alternative to something one would buy in the grocery store.

Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients, making sure everything is mixed thoroughly.

Place on the baking sheet in small 1-inch balls. Feel free to cover in sugar or sprinkles before putting the cookies into the oven. Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

This is not a recipe replacement for traditional cookie-cutter sugar cookies. This is for the more traditional round sugar cookies. When covered with white sugar or sprinkles, it makes that cookie that much more delectable. The dough may be more sticky than people are used to, but that’s okay because in the end, this recipe is better for you.

This recipe makes about four dozen cookies. It is another one that is perfect for gifting. Sugar cookies are a staple baked good during the holiday season.

The greatest thing about this recipe is the ingredient that probably caught most people’s eyes — the yogurt. It drastically reduces that amount of butter needed, which consequently reduces the amount of calories, fat, carbohydrates and sodium. In a season where cookies, bars and baked goods are coming from every direction, this recipe helps curb some of the nutritional frustration some may face.

Peppermint Bark Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose, gluten-free flour
3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
1 extra-large egg
2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bag of white chocolate chips
3-5 peppermint candy canes

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients except the white chocolate chips and candy canes into a large mixing bowl. Roll the dough into a massive dough ball. It will have loose parts falling off — don’t worry that’s okay. Just try to get as much of the dough in a ball as possible. Then, divide it in half. On pieces of parchment paper, roll each half into a log about 1 1/2 half inches thick. Place each log into plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Once refrigerated, removed the two logs of dough and cut into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick circles. Bake for seven to 10 minutes. They should be crisp when they are done. But be cautious — they burn easily if left in too long. Once baked, let them cool down on a wire rack. When they are completely cool, this is where the topping comes into play.

Melt the white chocolate morsels down in the microwave. It’s best to do this in 15-30 second intervals, to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn. When completely melted, completely dip the cookies in the chocolate with a fork, then place on parchment paper. Top with crushed peppermint candy canes. These can be crushed when placed in a gallon sized bag and pounded on with a hammer. Sprinkle candy cane particles on top of the cookie.

This cookie, even though it is a step or few above the basic cookie recipe, is great for people who have to or chose to live a gluten-free lifestyle. It’s essentially quite simple, yet the taste will bring people back craving more.

Peppermint Bark cookies offer an alternative for those who can’t or choose not to eat gluten. It looks incredibly festive, and since it is flavored with peppermint, it makes this the ultimate holiday cookie. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to impress their friends or coworkers with a homemade baked good.

This recipe doesn’t have a significant amount of butter or sugar, leaving the calories, fats and carbohydrates significantly lower than other baked goods around this time of year. It also brings that festive flavoring some people absolutely crave. I really liked this recipe, and as an experienced baker and college student, it was cost-effective and fairly simple to make. If eaten in moderation, as most sweet treats should be, this cookie offers a sensational, seasonal sugar rush.

As lights go up on trees, so do some people’s weights, whether they want them to or not. But these three fairly simple recipes will help one both satisfy a sweet tooth and watch the numbers on the scale.

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