Sweet Holiday Treats (From Healthy to Indulgent)

Every single year around this time, I get bit by the baking bug. I know that I'm not alone in this. Judging by my Facebook and Instagram feeds, the majority of my friends have been bit as well. It's easy to get carried away and over-indulge in all things loaded with butter and sugar (especially when everyone is bringing cookies into the office). To avoid getting a month-long sugar hangover, just remember that it's all about balance. Enjoy a few Christmas cookies without guilt (and be sure to follow my simple tips for a healthier holiday season.

I wanted to share three of the recipes that I've made for this year's holiday season that range from healthy to semi healthy to super indulgent. The quick bread is perfect for breakfast on Christmas morning (or any morning!). The spicy ginger flavors from the chai concentrate blend perfectly with the bits of sweet pear. I like it best toasted and slathered with butter.

The skillet cookie-cake is a fun twist on your standard Christmas cookies. (You could make this recipe into regular cookies if you desire.) Peppermint and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and unite beautifully in this recipe. It's best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Both the cookie-cake and quick bread are made with all-purpose baking mix (I used FlapJacked Protein Pancake Mix to boost the protein content *Disclaimer: The author of this article is employed by FlapJacked™ Protein Pancake Mixes).

I'll be straight-forward here: the drunken vanilla cupcakes are not healthy or good for you in any way, but they are delicious and sure to be a hit at holiday parties. They're called "drunken" cupcakes, because the recipe contains over a cup of rum. If you haven't baked with rum before, you're missing out! It's an awesome addition to baked goods and creates an incredible flavor. This recipe is super easy to make - the cupcakes only contain six ingredients!

The recipes:

Healthy: Spiced Chai & Pear Quick Bread

2 pears

1/2 TBSP + 2 TBSP butter, divided

1/4 cup + 1/2 cup Bhakti Chai concentrate (divided)
*if chai concentrate is not available, use an equal amount of extra-strong brewed chai tea*

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

3 eggs

1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 cups all-purpose baking mix

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Chop both pears into small pieces. Place in a sauce pan, along with 1/2 TBSP butter and 1/4 cup chai concentrate and cook over medium heat. Stir often and keep cooking until pears are soft and liquid has caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine remaining butter, Greek yogurt, eggs and coconut sugar. Add in baking mix, baking powder and baking soda. Add in remaining chai concentrate and blend with a wooden spoon. Stir in chopped walnuts and blend until all ingredients are well incorporated. Pour batter into a well-greased loaf pan and bake for 42-45 minutes (or until completely baked through). Remove from oven and let cool at least ten minutes before serving.

Semi Healthy: Chocolate Peppermint Skillet Cookie-Cake


4 TBSP melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 cup all purpose baking mix

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy cane pieces

Heat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine all wet ingredients and both sugars. Stir well. Add in baking mix, baking soda and cocoa powder. Stir slowly to incorporate ingredients. Stir in white chocolate chips and candy cane pieces. Transfer batter to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and smooth out the top.
Place skillet into the oven and bake for about 22-25 minutes (it should be slightly soft in the center and crispy on the edges). Let cool for at least 5 minutes. Slice into "pie" slices and serve.


Indulgent: Drunken Vanilla Cupcakes


for the cupcakes:

3 eggs

1 cup dark rum

1/2 stick butter (softened)

4 oz. cream cheese

1 box vanilla cake mix

1/4 cup water

for the glaze:

2 TBSP butter (softened)

2 TBSP cream cheese

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 TBSP dark rum

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Line 2 cupcakes pans with cups and set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, rum, butter and cream cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add in cake mix and stir. Pour water and blend for about two minutes, or until ingredients are mixed well. Pour equal amounts of batter into cupcake wells and place in the oven. Bake for 22-24 minutes (until cooked through). While cupcakes are baking, prepare the glaze. Add all ingredients into a bowl and stir vigorously (until smooth). Place in refrigerator until cupcakes are done baking. When cupcakes are done, allow to cook completely. Drizzle glaze over top of the cupcakes and store in a refrigerator to allow glaze to firm up.

Have a happy, healthy and fun holiday!

posted by
Lauren Martin
As a member of #TeamSierra, Lauren Martin receives promotional consideration from Sierra Trading Post. Lauren is a full-time Social and Digital Media Manager for a Colorado-based natural foods company and part-time Spinning and Bodypump Instructor. Her passions include hiking, biking, brewing kombucha, cooking healthy food (that doesn't taste healthy) and running around with her two Golden Retrievers. You can follow her on Instagram or on her blog, Me and the Mountains.
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