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Healthy Bites: Decadent cookies get sweet adjustments

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This is the first of two "Decadent December" columns. I hit upon the name when I realized I had a few chocolate-inspired recipes on hand to give.

Savor the sweetness of a homemade dessert in either or both of these recipes in which the ingredients have been adjusted to be a little better in nutrition numbers.

We're starting out with cookies, allowing time to get them baked for Christmas. But it isn't necessary to hurry and get them done.

Often, when it was too overwhelming to make everything, seemingly at once, during the holidays, I'd hold over until January up to mid-March. By then a winter lull had set in and no one was expecting anything. I worked at my own pace without any deadlines and surprised loved ones with a treat they could enjoy because the focus was on just a few goodies.

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 28 cookies.

     1/3  cup packed light brown sugar

     1/4  cup granulated sugar

     1/4  cup unsweetened applesauce

     2     tablespoons butter (no substitutes)

     1    egg

     1     teaspoon vanilla

     1    cup whole-wheat flour

     1     teaspoon soda

     1     teaspoon cinnamon

     3/4     teaspoon salt

     3/4  cup quick-cooking oats

     1/2  cup dark chocolate chips

CREAM sugars, applesauce and butter; beat in egg and vanilla; mix in flour, soda, cinnamon and salt, blending well.

STIR in oats and chocolate chips; drop onto greased cookie sheet by level tablespoonfuls or with a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop.

BAKE at 350° for 9 to 10 minutes -- don't overbake; cool on rack.

Nutrition information: Per cookie: 60 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 120 milligrams sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, less than 1 gram fiber, 5 grams sugar, 1 gram protein.

Orange Blossom Kisses

Makes about 40.

     1/2  cup tub-style vegetable oil spread (example Smart Balance) (see note)

     1/4  cup butter, softened

     2/3  cup sugar (or Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking -- follow package directions for equivalent)

     1     teaspoon baking powder

     1/8     teaspoon salt

     1    egg white

     2    cups flour

     1 1/2     teaspoons finely shredded orange peel

     Dark chocolate kisses or dark chocolate stars

BEAT oil spread and butter to combine; beat in sugar, baking powder and salt until very light and fluffy; beat in egg white.

BEAT in as much of the flour as possible with mixer, then use wooden spoon to stir in any remaining flour and orange peel. (If necessary, cover and refrigerate dough about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

SHAPE dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7 to 9 minutes at 350° or just until edges are set and bottoms very lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into center of each cookie; cool on rack.

Note: I used 3/4 cup Smart Balance/butter blend (sticks) instead of the 1/2 cup tub Smart Balance and 1/4 cup butter.

Nutrition information: Per cookie: 82 calories, 4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 3 milligrams cholesterol, 43 milligrams sodium, 11 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein.

Cookie with Splenda: Same as above except 77 calories and 9 carbs.

Reach Judy Grigoraci at jg@suddenlink.net.


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