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Some of my favorite memories are of my boys helping me make holiday treats every year. Decorating cookies was their favorite as preschoolers – now in high school and college, they’ve become my official taste testers!

Before you start baking, be prepared by checking your recipes and stocking up, making sure that you have all the necessary ingredients.

Following are additional tips for simple and successful holiday baking:

  1. Start Fresh: Old baking powder, baking soda or yeast can leave your baked goods flat. Begin your baking bonanza with new, previously unopened containers.
  2. Don’t get Stuck: Use parchment paper or silicon liners on baking trays. Cookies will easily lift off these and clean-up is a breeze.
  3. The Right Tool for the Job: For dry ingredients and semi-solid ingredients (flour, sugar, peanut butter, organic “shortening”) use nested (dry) measuring cups and level off with the back of a knife. “Fluff” flour with a spoon before measuring.
  4. For oil, milk and other fluids, use a liquid measuring cup.
  5. Use unsalted True Goodness® by Meijer Organic Butter for best flavor. Allow butter to soften at room temperature for an hour before use (butter should be soft and slightly firm, not mushy).
  6. Want perfect cookies? Cream butter and sugar together with a mixer for 2-3 minutes before adding other ingredients.
  7. Temperature matters! Pre-heat your oven before baking to prevent under- or over-cooking.
  8. Store with care in air-tight sealed containers (up to 3 weeks) or freeze 3-6 months. If preparing multiple varieties of cookies, store each variety in a separate container to preserve the cookie’s unique flavor.
  9. For best quality and flavor: Use large-size True Goodness® by Meijer Organic Eggs, pure extracts of vanilla and almond, True Goodness® by Meijer Organic chocolate baking chips, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

While it’s fun to indulge for the holidays, when I can find alternatives to make our favorite baked goods just a little bit healthier, I’ll gladly comply.

  1. Sneak in healthy ingredients:
    1. Use half all-purpose and half whole grain flour or use white whole wheat flour.
    2. Cut fat and calories: replace all or part of oil with canned pumpkin, applesauce or other fruit puree.
    3. Reduce sugar by up to 25% (no one will notice!)
    4. Healthy add-ins: Ground flaxseed or chia seeds (2-3 Tbsp.), Toasted nuts (1/4 to 1/2 cup), and chopped dried fruit (apricots, cherries, cranberries, dates, prunes or raisins).

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