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November 11, 2009 > Enjoy a Sweet Holiday Season With Healthier Treats

Enjoy a Sweet Holiday Season With Healthier Treats

Washington Hospital Lecture Offers Ways to Modify Your Favorite Dessert Recipes

The holiday season is here and with it comes loads of sugar and fat, not to mention all those extra calories. Pumpkin pie, eggnog, fudge, sugar cookies, the list goes on of the delicious holiday desserts we love to indulge in every year.

"It's tempting to say it's just once a year, so why can't I splurge and make these special treats," said Anna Mazzei, a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital. "The reality is everyone is doing that. So everywhere you go there are sweet treats loaded with sugar, fat and processed white flour. With some simple modifications, you can be the one who brings something to the party that tastes great and is healthier for you."

She will present "Healthy Desserts" on Tuesday, November 17, part of Washington Hospital's free Evening Lecture Series for Women. The lecture is from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Washington Women's Center, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register, call (800) 963-7070.

Mazzei will offer recipes for a number of fruit-based desserts that are both delicious and nutritious, and provide tips for cutting the sugar and fat in some of your favorite recipes. "There are a lot of products on the market today that can help," she said.

For example, margarine is now available in stick form with no trans fat, according to Mazzei. It can be used in place of butter and shortening to lower the fat content of baked goods. Fat-free evaporated milk and fat-free sour cream can be substituted for whole and evaporated milk or cream in some recipes to reduce the fat, she added.

Mazzei will offer ways to incorporate healthier ingredients into your dessert recipes like nuts, dark chocolate, oatmeal, and fresh and dried fruits to make them more nutritious. In addition, whole wheat flour can be substituted for white flour in many recipes.

"I'm not talking about completing removing fat and sugar, just simple modifications that can make these desserts healthier," she said. "I will provide recipes that cut out some of the unnecessary fat, sugar and calories while adding some nutritious items to make treats that not only taste good, but are good for you. That way you can make it through the holidays without gaining weight and feeling rotten."

For more information about other classes and programs offered by Washington Hospital, visit

Healthier Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 80 cookies.
Nutrition information for one cookie: 65 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 6 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 41 mg sodium; 62 mg potassium.


* 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1 cup molasses
* 2 tablespoons white vinegar


1. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter, oil and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg, molasses and vinegar; beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The dough will be very soft. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350¡F. Coat several baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

3. Working with one portion of dough at a time, on a floured surface, roll the dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut cookies using cookie cutters. Gather scraps and reroll. Using a spatula, place the cookies 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.

4. Bake the cookies, one batch at a time, until puffed but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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