Holiday baking is often a treasured tradition in most households. And of all of the holiday food festivities, baking is one of the highest impact with regards to calories. Many people make 3 or more kinds of cookies in large batches. A one-ounce cookie contains about the same amount of calories as an ounce of potato chips or French Fries. But who really eats just one? You and your loved ones eat the whole batch. Most people don't realize they are making 10,000 calories worth of cookies in their kitchen. Add in cakes, brownies, fudge, and other candies and the calorie total could easily be double that amount. Whew!
Here is a simple chart to illustrate the numbers of baking versus our idea of dried fruit below:
|Dried apples, 1 ounce||90 calories|
|Holiday cookies, average, 1 ounce||140 calories|
|Batch of cookie dough, 24 ounces||3360 calories|
You can make your cookies smaller, make fewer varieties, give some away, or bake just a few at the last minute to reduce the temptation to consume too many cookies and treats. Those are all great strategies and ones we have given here in this blog.
But what about the oohs and ahs of pretty little plates of cookies? How do you possibly replace that part of the dessert table?
Fortunately, we found some fruity, colorful ideas for you in case you want to bake less or skip the baking this year but still have a pretty dessert table.
What could possibly take the place of cookies you ask? Dried fruits, of course. Not just any dried fruits but the crispy, freeze-dried fruits you can make yourself in a dehydrator or buy in a store. We found ours at Whole Foods in the dried fruit aisle but you can get them in many stores as well as on Amazon. But we have made these many times ourselves with the help of a food dehydrator. It takes about a day for each batch but you don't need to make a huge mess in your kitchen or slave all day over them. You can even make them while you sleep.
We put the dried fruits in interesting and artistic little arrangements on brightly colored square dishes and dusted them with powdered sugar or cinnamon. A few nuts were added. We liken these to fruit tapas plates. We enjoyed the flavors and were satiated with a one ounce serving. Check out the flavor combinations we created but come up with your own, too.
Raspberries with roasted almonds and dried cranberries:
Dried apple slices with toasted walnuts and ground cinnamon:
Freeze dried pineapple bits, chopped dates, and powdered sugar:
All three fruit plates on a table:
The brightly colored papers used in the photographs are rice paper from Dick Blick Art Supply. Tissue paper works equally as well.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.