Sugar & Spice Holiday Cookies

Sugar & Spice Holiday Cookies

The holiday season has arrived! Hard to believe, I know. In the Northeast, the winter months always seem to drag on; the promise of spring, free-spirit of summer, and grace of fall come and go much faster than we’d like; and then BOOM, it’s Thanksgiving. The holidays sneak up on us and with them come feasts, food comas, and our own form of hibernation.

As a nutrition coach and food lover, I know that holiday feasting can bring with it a lot of anxiety about losing sight of our healthy habits. The key to not totally derailing and waking up in 2015 with a holiday hangover extraordinaire, is to take ownership of your choices — both the healthy ones and the not-so-healthy ones. The moment you start guilting yourself for having that slice of pumpkin pie with (gasp) homemade whipped cream (yum!), chances are the pity party will spiral out of control, and with it any semblance of a conscience for smart food decisions. Don’t wallow in your worries. Make your picks, enjoy what you eat, move your body, and move on when you trip along the way on your healthiest path.

Healthy hints:

1. Eat a smoothie loaded with fiber-rich and nutrient-dense foods the morning of a big family meal. It will help curb your appetite and keep your digestive system in working order!
2. Savor the pie, stuffing, and cheese plates you love. But maybe take a smaller portion, yeah? Mindful eating means slowing down to appreciate all the flavors, thought and love that went into preparing the foods you adore.

Speaking of things to savor, this year I’m participating in The Little Kitchen and Love & Olive Oil‘s 4th Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! Loads of fun. I get to play Secret Santa to three other food bloggers, sending them a dozen of my favorite homemade holiday cookies.

So what recipe did I go with….(cue the trumpets)

Grandmother's Sugar Cookies Ingredients

Though I typically make a really healthy cookie (exhibit A and B), I decided to embrace my ethos of moderation and make a recipe near and dear to my heart (with one small swap): Grandmother’s sugar cookies, the spiced variation. While healthy cookies are great when you’re trying to to keep sugar and butter intake low (i.e. most of the time…), certain occasions call for the real deal. My Grandmother’s sugar cookies — a holiday favorite in my family for generations — are devilishly delicious. They’re buttery, crispy (if you roll them thin enough) and, bien sur, sweet.

I honestly would have made them pure and true but I only keep gluten-free flours in my kitchen so I had to improvise. Luckily the yummy organic butter and devil in a white dress, err, I mean granulated cane sugar I used kept their integrity intact. I think my mom and Grandmother would be proud — Howard girls forever!

Grandmother's Sugar Cookies Directions

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves


How to Make Them:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In  a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix well.
  3. In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  4. Slowly fold dry ingredients into wet mixture. Mix until smooth.
  5. Chill dough for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  6. Either roll chilled dough into logs, wrap in plastic wrap, freeze for 1-3 hours, and cut into 1/8″ rounds; or roll chilled dough thin on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to create fun shapes.
  7. Bake 1″ apart on a lined cookie sheet for approximately 10 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.