With the holidays here, even a dedicated health food fan craves a tempting treat once in a while. But in the season of candy canes and fudge, finding a sweet that isn’t loaded with refined sugar, white flour, cholesterol and trans fats is a Santa-sized challenge.

But it’s not impossible.

Here to brighten your holiday, I’m offering up three of my favorite Christmas cookie creations. Each recipe is free of eggs and dairy and is completely vegan. In addition, both the double chocolate and gingerbread cookies are gluten-free.

Should you be after a totally raw treat, just swap the maple syrup for raw honey and leave out the vanilla extract in the double chocolate cookies. If you need to steer clear of nuts, then head for the gingerbread cookies.

The peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are the most traditional of the trio. While there are plenty of dairy-free chocolate chips on the market, I’ve yet to find one that isn’t made with refined sugar. You can avoid this added sugar by substituting raisins or cacao nibs in place of the chocolate chips.

And no matter what confections you choose to grace your dessert table this season, may you enjoy them with peace and joy in your heart.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE NO-BAKE COOKIES WITH CRANBERRIES

2 cups raw cashews

1 packed cup of chopped Medjool dates

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup raw cacao nibs

2 tablespoons raw, unrefined coconut oil

Fruit-sweetened dried cranberries

Grind the cashews in a food processor for 30 to 60 seconds until a course meal forms. Transfer to a bowl. Next, add dates, maple syrup and vanilla extract to the food processor and puree. Add the cacao powder, salt, cashews and coconut oil and process until a sticky dough forms. Scrape the sides of the food processor. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and mix in the nibs. With clean hands, pinch off a small ball of dough and then form it into a flat cookie disk. Press three cranberries on the top of the cookie. Place each finished cookie on wax paper, cover and refrigerate for a least one hour. Makes 12 to 18 cookies, depending on size.

GLUTEN-FREE GINGERBREAD COOKIES

2 3/4 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup unsulphured molasses

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together gluten-free flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together flax seeds and water until it becomes slightly sticky. In a third bowl, mix coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses and applesauce. Incorporate the flax mixture into the third bowl. Once fully mixed, slowly add the flour until it is thoroughly incorporated. Drop the dough by teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and serve. Makes two dozen cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 cups rolled oats

4 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup natural peanut butter

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups maple syrup

2/3 cup rice milk

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets with a touch of olive oil and set aside. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, mix peanut butter and olive oil until well blended. Then stir in maple syrup, rice milk and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Gently fold in walnuts and chocolate chips. Drop dough onto cookie sheets with a teaspoon and bake for 15 minutes. Cool and serve. Makes three dozen cookies.

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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