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Baking Wholesome Holiday Pastry!

Judy E. Buss

Not all pastry is created equal. Much of it is made with train-loads of butter, sugar, and cream, as in: eat it today, wear it tomorrow! Other baked treats, however, can be just as delicious when made from wholesome ingredients and drastically reduced calorie bombs.

Finer milled whole wheat PASTRY flour may be substituted for nutrition-poor white flour. Use 2% milk or unsweetened soy milk instead of their fatty counterpart. Where possible, replace empty-calorie white sugar with chopped dried fruit and/or a small amount of honey in bars, crisps, cakes, cup cakes, and cookies.

Whole wheat pastry flour is sold mostly in health food stores. If your supermarket does not carry it and there is no health food store in your town, then next time you are in a city which does have one, stock up on larger quantities, freeze, and use when needed. Baking and freezing pastry weeks in advance of a celebration goes a long way toward slimming down your To-Do list and holiday stress. Happy holidays!

Yield: 3 dozen

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats (oatmeal)
1 large egg
1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins

  1. Measure all the ingredients and bring to room temperature. Lightly grease baking cookie trays, and line them with parchment paper. It will stay put once the cookies are placed on it. Do not grease the top of the paper.
  2. Place the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and, cloves with a fork. Thoroughly mix in the oats and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl beat the oil, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the egg and beat 1 minute – not less! Add the milk and beat well.
  5. Make a crater in the center of the dry ingredients, and using a large spoon gradually mix in the wet ingredients until well blended. Now gently mix in the nuts and raisins.
  6. Beginning with the corners of the baking tray – in order to hold the parchment paper in place – drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking trays. Gradually add cookies in rows on the trays, 1-1/2 inches apart, until all the dough has been used up. The cookies should be 1-inch high, and 2 inches in diameter. Using the back of 2 forks, gently press the cookies on all sides so they hold well together after baking.
  7. Bake 14 – 16 minutes until the cookie edges and tops begin to brown. Check after 13 minutes. When the cookies are done, cool 2 minutes in the tray on a wire rack then transfer to plates on the wire rack to let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

TO FREEZE: Wrap each cookie individually in a plastic wrap. Place the wrapped cookies in an airtight freezer-proof container. TO WARM: Thaw the cookies in their wrappers. Now discard the wrappers and warm the cookies in a preheated 180F-degree oven for 8 minutes.

6 servings

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (oatmeal)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)

4 large Golden Delicious apples, unpeeled, room temperature
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

  1. Grease a 8 x 8 x 2 baking dish. Set aside. Position the baking rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry topping ingredients, including the sugar. Add the oil, mix well and set aside.
  3. Quarter and core the apples, (do not peel). Thinly slice each apple-quarter crosswise and place in a large bowl. Using your fingers, toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice. Wash and dry your hands. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon over the apples and mix.
  4. Cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with a layer of apples. Evenly sprinkle small amount of raisins on top of the apples. Repeat this layering procedure.
  5. Sprinkle the topping over the apples to cover them completely. Bake uncovered 35 – 40 minutes, until the apples are somewhat tender when pierced with a fork and the topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.

“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.

Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.

Stay tuned for more Judy E. Buss’ “Mission Nutrition” words of wisdom and recipes.

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