Eat Right: Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes

Holiday New JammiesAt New Jammies, we love the holidays and all that make them special. Kids make the memories especially sweet as they handcraft cute holiday ornaments for the tree and help in the kitchen to bake and decorate cookies.

We like to eat healthy during the holidays when we can, so these cookie recipes are cute, fun, festive and nutritious.

Happy holidays!

Boot TracksBoot Tracks cookies, courtesy of Eating Well Magazine, are perfect to leave out for Santa the night before Christmas, or to package in holiday tins for homemade gift-giving. The recipe is from Eating Well reader Patti Anderson, a professional quilter, who had never entered a cooking contest before she won with this quick, no-fuss, chewy chocolate cookie made using a waffle iron. Best of all, Eating Well says kids love them.

Ingredients
1/2 cup salted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions
1. Preheat a nonstick (not Belgian) waffle iron.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa powder, oil and espresso powder (if using). Beat until thoroughly combined.
3. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto the preheated ungreased waffle iron. (To avoid burnt fingers, use two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape dough onto the waffle iron.) Close and cook until the cookies are puffed and cooked through, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Waffle irons vary, so watch closely and don’t let the cookies get too dark. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until just warm. Dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while still slightly warm (see Variations).

Variations: Instead of confectioners’ sugar, drizzle cooled cookies with melted bittersweet and/or white chocolate. Or make a peppermint drizzle: Mix 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons water and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; add natural green food coloring, if desired.

Make-ahead tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Decorate on parchment: When adding finishing touches to your cookies or cakes, place them on a large sheet of parchment paper before you decorate. The paper catches the excess, making cleanup a breeze.

 

img_2099These Oatmeal Jam Bars from Better Homes and Gardens feature fiber-rich oats to add nutritional value. A sweet raspberry filling is sandwiched between two layers of warm, crumbly cream cheese crust. For heart-healthy options, use low-sugar or sugar-free jam and low-fat cream cheese.

Ingredients
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup seedless blackberry or red or black raspberry jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in oats, brown sugar, and lemon peel. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the crumb mixture for topping; set aside.
3. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the jam and lemon juice. Carefully spread jam mixture over hot crust. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup crumb mixture. Bake about 15 minutes more or until top is golden. Cool bars in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Place bars in box; close box.

Make-ahead tip: Layer bars between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

 

Cranberry CookiesCranberry cooperative Ocean Spray has declared the beloved red berry as the “official unofficial fruit of the holidays,” and we can’t think of a better way to eat it than in cookie form. The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association (see more healthy recipes at cranberries.org) offers this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies using dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and old-fashioned oats.

Ingredients
⅔ cup butter or margarine, softened
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 bag of sweetened dried cranberries (6 oz.)
⅔ cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Using an electric mixer beat butter or margarine and brown sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
3. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.
4. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries, chocolate chips and walnuts.
5. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until gold brown.

Blueberry White Chocolate Ginger CookieBlueberries, ginger, white chocolate, oh my! These three ingredients combine to make a magical Blueberry White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookie that Eating Well Recipe Contributor Anna Ginsberg says are “a real snap to make — just stir and bake.” Package in a pretty blue holiday tin, and these cookies will be a big gift hit, thanks to this Eating Well recipe.

Ingredients
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned (not instant)
2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup dried blueberries, (see Tip)
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (see Tip)

Directions
1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F.
2. Whisk flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt and ground ginger in a small bowl.
3. Whisk egg, brown sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; stir to combine. Add oats, chocolate, blueberries and crystallized ginger; stir just to combine.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto 2 ungreased baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden around the edges, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 10 minutes.
6. Cool on the pans for 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make-ahead tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Tip: Dried cranberries or cherries will also work in place of blueberries; all can be found, along with crystallized ginger, in the baking, dried fruit or produce sections of many supermarkets and natural-foods stores.

Storage smarts: To extend the life of your baked goods, store them in an airtight container in a single layer or between layers of parchment paper to prevent sticking.

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Sleep Tight: Tips for Turning Off Technology Before Bedtime

Kids and TechnologyIn today’s tech-savvy society, it’s hard to remember life before smartphones, tablets and social media. The Pew Research Center estimates that 68% of Americans have smartphones and 45% own tablets. With electronics all around us, it’s no surprise our kids are affected.

The National Sleep Foundation says when it comes to children, electronics and sleep, there’s an increasing prevalence of electronics in kid’s bedrooms. New Jammies agrees this can present some challenges.

“That creates a culture of evening engagement and light exposure that negatively impacts sleep time, sleep quality and daytime alertness,” says the NSF. “Many children are not fulfilling basic sleep requirements and adequate sleep is essential for growth, learning, mood, creativity and weight control. Understanding the influence of light and evening engagement on sleep is the first step in helping parents address the dilemma of electronics in the bedroom.”

There are several results of mixing electrics and bedtime for kids of all ages. The Foundation says children using electronic media as a sleep aid to relax at night have been shown to have later weekday bedtimes. They also experience fewer hours of sleep per week and report more daytime sleepiness.

“Adolescents with a bedroom television have later bedtimes, more difficulty initiating sleep and shorter total sleep times,” says the NSF. “Texting and emailing after lights outs, even once per week, dramatically increases self-reported daytime sleepiness among teens.”

Increased academic demands, busy social and extracurricular schedules, and the lure of entertainment keep our children electronically engaged at night, according to the Foundation.

“Not all electronic usage is recreational as the burden of homework is great for many of our children and their work is often completed on the computer, a significant light source late in the evening,” the NSF says.
Liraz Margalit, Ph.D., who analyzes online consumer behavior, recently penned an article for “Psychology Today” discussing kid’s exposure to electronic media. She suggested to tread carefully on the topic because technology isn’t always a bad thing.

“Educational apps and TV shows are great ways for children to sharpen their developing brains and hone their communication skills — not to mention the break these gadgets provide harried parents,” she says. “But tread carefully: A number of troubling studies connect delayed cognitive development in kids with extended exposure to electronic media.”

Dr. Margalit says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates American children spend a whopping seven hours a day in front of electronic media.
“Other statistics reveal that kids as young as two regularly play iPad games and have playroom toys that involve touch screens,” the article says.

The key is to wait and introduce kids to electronics until at least the age of two. And to power off regularly to establish clear boundaries between the virtual world and the real one.

“Despite the danger that overexposure to smartphones can pose for young brains, there are a lot of benefits to letting little ones use technology. Once a child is over the age of two, feel free to allow limited screen time — think an hour, max, of playing with tablets and iPhones each day— to help develop coordination, hone quick reactions, and even sharpen language skills,” Dr. Margalit says. “As with all the other toys and tools available to your developing child, smartphone use should stay in moderation, and never stand in for human interaction or real-world face time.”

The Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) is an international alliance of more than 100 policy leaders, educators, law enforcement members, technology experts, public health experts and advocates established in 2005. The nonprofit says for both kids and adults, the time for a technology curfew is always right, and are essential for a healthy life and family. Establishing a nightly digital wind-down ritual, benefit us in many ways, says iKeepSafe, and these tips can help you and your family:

• “Unplug” two hours before bed. This gives your brain a chance to unwind and get ready for sleep.

• Create a schedule and stick to it. Confusion and arguments will be kept to a minimum once your kids understand that the technology curfew is a nightly event that’s here to stay.

• Make family fun time a part of the nightly ritual. Idea: Assign a night to each family member and make him or her in charge of choosing the activity.

• Don’t forget to add some invaluable me-time to the mix. This could include, reading, writing, pampering or meditating.

• Store all digital devices (e.g., smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.) in an area of the house other than the bedrooms.

• Use an alarm clock rather than your smartphone or tablet as a wakeup device.

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New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.