The magical whirlwind that is the Christmas season is almost over. The waiting of the Advent season will soon break through to the awe and wonder that is Christmas… snow or no snow – as it is here in Minneapolis. It seems that yesterday’s snow shower was more of a blip than the light white dusting I hoped for. With no snow in the forecast, we will simply have to enjoy the much warmer than average temperatures.
But it still feels like Christmas in our hearts and homes. The smell of fraser fir, mexican lasagna and freshly baked cookies all rekindle my memories of Christmas as a child. The awe, wonder and fantasy of the Season is so profound. It’s breath taking to watch Matthew’s eyes as he takes it all in.
Yesterday Matthew was wondering what was hiding inside the gifts under the tree. I apologize if your wrapping paper is torn or your bow is off kilter. I blame it on Matthew’s wonderfully curious spirit.
Please stay with me because I am going to add a quick side bar to our conversation. Today I received a note from Allan’s cousin, Kristina, asking for fruit and vegetable storage tips. I figured that amid all of this talk about cookies, Christmas and indulgence, it is probably best that we DO have this conversation to simply remind us of our clean eating roots.
Here is a list of tips and tricks that I use when buying and storing fruits and vegetables. Please leave comments below with your tips so that I can pass them on to Kristina.
- I shop for fruits and veggies once every week and a half or so.
- Always carefully look over your produce. Check for soft spots, mold and bruises. I even do a once over on pre bagged produce (onions, potatoes, apples, etc.)
- I use green bags for all of my produce – I am a believer.
- Don’t wash your produce you are ready to use it.
- If prepping veggies in advance for a meal, I store the cut veggies in glass storage containers (Anchor/Pyrex).
- Celery keeps well when wrapped in a paper towel and then in aluminum foil.
- I have also started washing/cutting romaine lettuce in advance and storing it in quart size mason jars that have had the air sucked out by my vacuum sealer – works like a charm!
- I always buy spinach and lettuce either whole (heads of romaine, bunches of spinach) or in the plastic containers – never bagged. I find the bagged lettuce spoils very quickly.
- I have these vegetable sacks that I use to store my garlic, onions and potatoes.
- Onions and potatoes should be stored separately and far away from one another, as they cause each other to rot.
- The same is true of tomatoes, they will cause your other fruit and veggies to ripen quickly.
- Refrigerate all fruit once it is ripe. Only leave fruit that needs to ripen (bananas, stone fruit, pears, etc.) on the counter until they are just ripe. Then store in the crisper drawer in a green bag.
Christmas is a once in a year event and should be enjoyed to it’s fullest. Simply remember that come Monday it’s time to tighten our belts and get back on the wagon. Don’t let the treats that you enjoy over the next few days derail you from your goals.
Fortunately for you, enjoying a few of the following cookies as a treat will not derail your weight loss efforts! This recipe makes five dozen cookies, which makes it perfect for sharing with loved ones over the holidays. If you are afraid that you will eat the whole batch, simply halve the recipe for a more manageable two and a half dozen cookies.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
This recipe was inspired by Allan and my dad’s favorite Christmas cookie, the peanut butter star cookie. I decided that we should all be able to enjoy this beloved cookie guilt-free. Low-sugar, whole grain, low-fat and gluten-free.
1 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, preferably organic (just peanuts)
1/2 cup butter, preferably organic and grass-fed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, preferably organic
1 cup sucanat powdered sugar
2 organic eggs + 1 egg white
3 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 gluten-free all purpose flour (we like Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips, divided
Preheat oven to 350˚. Mist two baking sheets with oil or line with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together peanut butter, butter, applesauce and sucanat. When combined, add eggs, honey and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.
In a large bowl combine oats, flours, sea salt, xanthan gum, baking powder and baking soda.
With mixer running on it’s lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until just about combined. Fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Scoop cookies onto prepared sheets using a cookie scoop or tablespoon. Flaten cookies with fork for less doughy cookies and leave balled for softer cookies. Top each cookie with a chocolate chip from reserved 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.
If desired, substitute all chocolate chips with natural chocolate kisses or stars, which should not be applied to cookies until after they are baked.
Bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes. If baking two sheets at once in the oven, alternate the cooking shelved halfway through baking.
Let cookies rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool. Will keep well stored in the fridge 3-5 days. These cookies freeze/thaw extremely well.