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The Holiday Cookie Quest, Day One

December 3, 2009

Cranberry Orange Cookies, yum!

Okay, here we are December first, and all I can think about is cookies! (Oh, and Mexican food, but that is another subject.) This time of the year, thoughts just turn to cookies. What is it about cookies that are so appealing?  Is it their delightful hand held size, or the visions of good times crammed into those small packages?  Whatever it is, it is a national obsession, predominantly during the holiday season. The question is asked, can one make a wonderful cookie, worthy of admiration, that is also good for you? Does a cookie have to be dripping with butter and sugar to be.. well.. a cookie?

My answer is no. In fact, I have gotten to the point where super buttery cookies taste too rich. After all, I love to eat cookies, so why not make it something good for you?  I have honestly spent years trying to perfect the ideal low fat, healthy cookie recipe and I must confess that it is an on going project. I have many incredible recipes that I have encountered, altered and eaten and the pursuit still marches on. I intend to use this month to try as many cookies recipes as possible on my poor family and friends, to bring you the best recipes ever. (BTW, if you have a great healthier cookie recipe to share, I would love it!)  I shall launch this expedition into the holidays with a old favorite that is proven.  The first cookie recipe is a delicious holiday oatmeal cookie that is actually pretty good for you.

Orange Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe I have made many times and my husband loves them. They are perfect holiday flavors and are full of goodness.

1 cup of dried cranberries

½ cup orange juice

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup butter, room temp

3 tbls of honey

1 large egg

1 ½ cups of whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

3 cups of oatmeal

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon orange zest


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small bowl, cover and let stand while you make the cookies. Beat the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in honey and egg then add the cranberries and orange juice.

Combine flour, soda, powder and salt in a separate bowl and enthusiastically whisk together. Toss in the oatmeal, walnuts and orange zest and whisk some more.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and blend together till just right. Drop loving spoonfuls onto lightly oiled baking sheets and bake for about 8-10 minutes, depending the size of your cookies.

Nutritional information per cookie if you make 4 dozen, Calories 80, fat 2 grams, fiber 1 gram

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Marielle permalink
    December 3, 2009 2:37 pm

    I was just browsing Tastespotting and found this; thought I’d share with you my all-time favorite not-horrible-for-you-at-all cookie recipe.
    I still call it my recipe, even though it’s really just a revised version of this recipe: but am not vegan and didn’t find it necessary seek out the “special” ingredients used. Below is what I use:

    75 g “American Neufchâtel” cheese (cream cheese with 33% less fat… not the crumbly cheese more commonly known as Neufchâtel, to avoid any confusion), about 5 tablespoons, softened
    3/4 cup granulated or raw sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
    *1 2/3 cup whole wheat pasty flour
    [Or: 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour (normal whole wheat or AP flour would also work) and 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup cake flour]
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    Buttermilk (1%) as needed

    *Fluff the flour with a spoon, then spoon lightly into the measuring cups and level off with the straight edge of a knife. Never scoop. Every time you scoop, a puppy dies.

    With electric mixer on high speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and extracts and beat until incorporated.
    Separately sift together the flours, baking powder and salt.
    Add dry to wet in about 3 or 4 intervals until a dough forms. If dough seems dry and crumbly, add buttermilk in very small splashes until it comes together.
    With floured hands, form dough into a flat disk (I know some people mold the dough into a ball but it’s a lot easier to roll out if it’s in a disk) wrap in plastic or place in a plastic storage bag and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.
    Place the disk on a lightly floured surface. Lightly coat in flour and roll out to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thickness with lightly floured rolling pin.
    Cut out shapes with floured cookie cutters, toss a few times between hands to shake off excess flour, and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. [Quick note here: only re-roll the scraps once to maintain the proper texture; the rest of the scraps can be squished into a couple abstract shapes and baked along with the other shapes. They’ll be pretty chewy but still a delicious quick treat rewarding your work.]

    Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of your oven for 5-9 minutes until edges are lightly golden (it took around 7 for me, at about 1/4″ thickness).
    Wait 30 seconds upon removing cookies from oven to transfer to a wire rack to cool.


    • ziabaki permalink*
      December 3, 2009 9:55 pm

      Thank you! I will try these and post the results!

  2. linda permalink
    December 3, 2009 3:21 pm

    Oh … thank you, thank you, thank you for your pursuit of making a healthier cookie and for posting the recipe and for noting the nutritional value. These are on my “to-bake” cookie list this year for sure!! Besides being better they look and sound delcious.

    • ziabaki permalink*
      December 3, 2009 9:56 pm

      Let me know what you think and if I should add anything. Thanks for coming by!

  3. spngebobmyhero permalink
    December 3, 2009 7:19 pm

    These look delicious, I found them on tastespotting. Are there any alternative flours that I could use? I don’t have pastry flour but I have many other flours (regular, whole wheat, etc) that I would like to use.

    • ziabaki permalink*
      December 3, 2009 9:59 pm

      Sure, you can use King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour, it works lovely in this recipe. You can also use half unbleached and half regular whole wheat flour as well. Experiment using just whole wheat flour too and add a bit more orange juice to get the right cookie dough consistency. Let me know how it goes.

    • ziabaki permalink*
      December 3, 2009 10:00 pm

      Sure, you can use King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour, it works lovely in this recipe. You can also use half unbleached and half regular whole wheat flour as well. Experiment using just whole wheat flour too and add a bit more orange juice to get the right cookie dough consistency. Let me know how it goes. Thanks so much for coming by! Happy Holidays Dana

      • spngebobmyhero permalink
        December 4, 2009 2:52 am

        thank you so much! i’ll make these soon and let you know how it goes!!

  4. December 4, 2009 2:30 am

    Hi from Ralph! I play chef around our house, and I just found this site listed among ‘Recently posted’ on my own dashboard. These cookies look YUMtious!…is there such a word? I’m bookmarking your site so I can return again, and I’ll make a starting batch on the weekend with a bigger batch for the holidays.

    Cheers and Merry Christmas from 🙂

    Hope you like The Dean Martin Show!

  5. December 4, 2009 2:39 am

    I have a healthy cranberry orange cookie on my blog too. They are a favorite. Yours look wonderful!

    • ziabaki permalink*
      December 4, 2009 10:02 pm

      I looked at your recipe and it looks fantastic! I will have to try it. Thanks for coming by and visiting. Love your blog, BTW.

  6. Chai Shean permalink
    December 4, 2009 3:26 am

    Now you’re making me hungry.

    Good luck with your healthy cookie conquest! Thanks for the great recipe, I shall try it in my spare time (I have loads of these)

  7. December 5, 2009 9:46 pm

    These are beautiful, Dana! Well, you know I’m an all-butter cookie grrrl most of the time, but I can only eat a few and give most of them as gifts. Now this is a cookie I can eat with wild abandon and no guilt. Hallelujah! 🙂 …Susan

  8. December 7, 2009 1:20 am

    I can’t wait to try your cookies.

    I recently made cookies with similar flavours but more Thanksgiving than Christmas. Healthy too with all that pumpkin, right? 🙂

  9. December 8, 2009 1:47 pm

    Definitely love a good oatmeal cookie! Sounds fantastic!

  10. linh permalink
    December 23, 2010 6:37 am

    Hi!!! i wonder if i can cut off half off the sugar? will it be chwy still?

    • ziabaki permalink*
      December 23, 2010 5:28 pm

      I don’t know. Give it a try and let me know. I omitted the baking soda this year and they were a little less puffy. you could give that a try. Happy ho ho!


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