A balanced diet is a Christmas cookie in each hand…

I believed I have put enough distance between myself and the cookie baking frenzy that led to intense teeth-brushings and cravings for tempeh, lettuce, and gallons of water.

It’s Christmas time after all. We must talk cookies.

This past weekend, the Christmas parties came a’calling and after a long week of finals, I was more than ready to release my baking fairy and be covered in stardust flour. Being the blogaholic, recipe hoarder that I am, choosing cookie recipes was a long and detailed process. I wanted to be sure I made just the right ones.

Thankfully, I hit on some winners:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Oh She Glows: Vegan, perfectly chewy and hearty — everything you want in an oatmeal raisin and so much more! I love the way this recipe incorporates ground toasted walnuts for rich flavor and added nutrition.

Gingerbread from Martha Stewart: A basic gingerbread recipe that I have found to be virtually fool-proof. Be warned that the yield is based on very large cookies; I doubled the recipe, and ended up with a whole ginger-army! I also reduced the amount of brown sugar by 3/4 with fine results. Gingerbread cutouts are so fun to decorate!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies from Elana’s Pantry. This recipe can’t get more minimalist with six basic whole-food ingredients and almost no work involved. Elena’s Pantry is one of my favorite resources for healthy dessert recipes I can feel good about eating and serving. No one would guess these scrumptious peanut butter pillows are gluten-free and vegan!

Toasted Coconut, Toffee, and Chocolate Chip Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod. The title alone had me falling for these cookie, hook, line, and sinker. Coconut, especially toasted, has my heart. I substituted butterscotch chips for the toffee bits, and whole wheat flour for white. These were delicious. I loved the different flavors and textures going on in these cookies. Party in my mouth. Mom, where did you hide those cookies??

I hope your Christmas season has been filled with yummy cookies and people to share them with. Platters of these cookies graced the tables of two caroling parties and one Sunday School Christmas party and were welcomed everywhere with welcome arms.. Even the “healthier” cookies were gobbled up happily. I looked on from a distance — my tummy already full of sampling the “Christmas cheer”.

My conscience simply won’t allow me to talk on about cookies without inserting my Dietetics-to-be voice (please, indulge me — I want to believe this semester of horror was not in vain!). This week, I’m sharing four helpful tips to “Eat Through the Holidays…Healthfully!” at Vibrance. Click on over and leave your cookie-eating/refraining strategies in the comments. I know I’d appreciate all the help I can get.

And so would this guy.

My inner vegetarian is seriously revolting against this.

After Christmas, it’s lettuce and tempeh for life.


Celebration Calls for Baking

I feel like celebrating.

I’m not exactly sure why.

It may be because yesterday marked the end of my summer Statistics course. I hit the final “submit” button at 11:13 pm while sitting on my bed in my pajamas. Still awaiting the score on that one…It can wait until I’ve fully enjoyed this sense of accomplishment.

It may be because I just spent the last week at an exhilarating, inspiring conference for girls. Making new friends, getting closer to old ones and being strengthened in my faith had me walking around with a smile all week. It also had me taking a Statistics class at 11:13 pm, but the joy far outweighed the consequences.

Or it may be because in a few short days, I’ll be heading out to Philadelphia for another conference, to learn about nutrition and healthy living, and to stalk a few of my blogger heroines. And staying up till 11:13 pm, on my bed in my pajamas, with my head not bent over a calculator, but immersed in a swag bag of goodies. I’ll take it.

But really, when I think of my blessed life, I see there is much to celebrate. Family and friends who are dear to me, the comfort of home, health and strength to enjoy long runs in the August sunshine, clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in…and study in.

Mostly I rejoice that I know the Source of my blessed life. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17). Each day I know that “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23,24). Great is His faithfulness.

It’s worth celebrating. Is it weird that I always associate food with celebrating? Whenever there is a birthday, anniversary, graduation, soccer win, passed exam, or just a really good day, my first thought is what recipe best will best commemorate the occasion.

Is that strange? Because if it is and I’m the only one celebrating with blueberry shortbread with coconut streusel, I don’t want to be normal.

Blueberry Streusel Shortbread Bars

Shortbread Ingredients:

  • ¾ c. sugar
  • ½ c. margarine
  • ½ t. vanilla extract
  • ¾ c. whole wheat flour
  • ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¼ c. chopped  pecans
  • ¼ c. unsweetened coconut

Streusel Topping Ingredients:

  • ¼ c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ c. rolled oats
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. chopped pecans
  • ¼ c. margarine, melted


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly pray a 8×8 pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, margarine and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add dry ingredients gradually into wet mixture until fully combined. Stir in milk. Gently fold in berries, pecans, and coconut. Press mixture into prepared pan.
  • Topping: Combine flour, coconut, oats, brown sugar, and pecans in a medium bowl. Drizzle with melted butter and stir to coat. Sprinkle topping over bars and gently press into batter.
  • Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Have you thought of a reason to celebrate yet? These bars are calling your name.