For several months now, I've been on a "healthy" sweets kick. I love sweets and I'm not even going to lie and say I try to lay off of them. I usually eat something for dessert after lunch and dinner, even if it's just a handful of M & M's. Don't get the wrong idea though. I'm very careful with my portion size - I don't sit around eating a whole pie or anything. :)
My son also seems to have inherited my love of sweets. But since my husband and I both have high cholesterol and high triglycerides, it's almost a sure bet that my son will also have them. And, because of the fat content, preservatives, hydrogenated, saturated etc. goop in all the prepackaged sweets (like Little Debbie for example), I felt like I was poisoning my kid everytime I put something like that in his lunch box. But you have to put something sweet in their lunch boxes. I mean, geez, that's the best part of lunch. **Side note: I'm also trying to eliminate packaged cake/brownie/cookie mixes because they contain the same hydrogenated preservative poisons that the other packaged sweets have.
That's when I decided to just start making my own. I have a ton of recipes that I've never tried because we always try not to have too many sweets in the house. But the fact of the matter is, we are going to eat something sweet after a meal even if we have to scrounge around until we find expired chocolate chips or old stale stuck together marshmallows. Isn't it healthier for me to make something from scratch that I can control what goes into than to eat whatever we can find because we're desperate for sugar? Well, I think it is. (that's my arguement and I'm sticking to it!!)
So, this past summer, I did some research on the least toxic forms of fat to bake with. And what I came up with was I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - for margarine, and 100% all vegetable shortening - for shortening. If a recipe calls for oil, I use (and have for several years) extra light Olive Oil - usually Bertolli brand because I like it best and you can by a large jug of it at Sam's for a good price. I usually use real eggs though I occassionally use egg substitute but really, eggs are actually good for you. Yes, they're high in cholesterol but when you're talking about putting 1 or 2 in a cake or cookies, it's not that big a deal. Plus, they're high in protein.
So, about once per week, I bake up something yummy from scratch. I've shared several of the recipes I've made on my blog but I plan to start sharing more. Some of them I get from allrecipes.com (my fav recipe site) and some from cookbooks or magazines. If it's a new recipe that I'm trying, I write a little note on it saying what we liked or how I can make it better. If it doesn't come out like I hoped, I chunk the recipe. This has been really fun for me because I LOVE to bake and now I can without feeling guilty about it. I've stopped buying packaged sweets almost completely. I do still occassionally buy reduced fat Oreos, just because I like them. But for the most part, it's all handmade.
Here is last weeks recipe - Shortbread. I originally got this recipe from a really old cookbook that my mom had when I was a kid. I love shortbread because it's crunchy but my son wasn't real crazy about it - ironically for the same reason. He prefers his cookies to be gooey.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. double acting baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure all ingredients into large bowl except sugar and cinnamon. Mix at medium speed. Pat dough into a 9" x 9" baking pan. In a cup, mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the dough. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cut into bars while warm. Makes about 20 cookies.
**I hope my post doesn't sound too preachy. I'm not trying to condemn anyone else for what they eat. This is just something that I'm doing for my family. It doesn't mean I think you're poisoning your kid for giving them a Little Debbie cookie or anything. Please don't take it that way.