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Side-on view of mince pies

Healthier Christmas snacks

Mince pies lower in saturated fat, biscuits with less sugar and brownies with pumpkin goodness: these healthier Christmas snacks from nutritionist Rob Hobson are still just as delicious.

Star mince pies on plate with holly sprig

Healthier mince pies

Serves 12

205 calories per pie

This recipe is lower in calories and saturated fat than a regular shop-bought mince pie, as it uses low-fat spread in place of butter. These pies still retain their festive flavour by way of mincemeat and dried cranberries.

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g low-fat spread, chilled
  • 5 tsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 5 tbsp mincemeat
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries, finely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan, gas 6. Lightly grease a 12-hole patty tin using a cooking spray.
  2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt. Add the low-fat spread and rub together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in 3 tbsp of the icing sugar and the egg (save a little to glaze the pies), then add a few drops of cold water to bring the mixture together.
  3. Roll the mixture into a ball, then wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
  4. While the mixture is cooling, place the mincemeat, apple and cranberries in the bowl and combine.
  5. Take the pastry out of the fridge. Lightly dust your work surface with flour, then roll out the pastry until it is about 5mm thick. Take a 7.5cm cutter and stamp out 12 rounds. Gather the remaining pastry and use a 6cm star-shaped cutter to stamp out 12 stars. Press the rounds into the patty tin for the base of your mince pies.
  6. Spoon the filling into the pie bases, then top each one with a pastry star and brush with the remaining egg.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pies from the oven, then set aside to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and dusting with the remaining icing sugar.

Plain vanilla biscuits on a trayHealthier Christmas biscuits

Makes 36 small biscuits

58 calories per serving

These biscuits use much less sugar than other recipes, making them a healthier option for people trying to reduce their sugar intake.

Ingredients

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 60g soft brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Zest of one small orange

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan, gas 4. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, then continue to beat. Add the flour, cinnamon and orange zest, then mix to form a dough.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour, then roll out the dough to a thickness of 1cm. Use a round cookie cutter or glass to cut the biscuits out of the dough, then place on the baking tray.
  4. Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes until golden brown, then set aside for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  5. You can serve your biscuits plain, or decorate with a small drizzle of white chocolate or plain icing topped with silver balls.
Brownies on plate with two glasses of milk

Healthier pumpkin brownies

Makes 8

189 calories per serving

This recipe replaces sugar with Truvia: an artificial sweetener made from stevia. These lower-calorie brownies have the added health benefit of pumpkins, which makes them a source of potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and E.

Ingredients

  • 100g almond flour
  • 60g Truvia Brown for Baking
  • 45g cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g salted butter, melted
  • 250g pumpkin purée
  • 2 large eggs, whisked

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C, 160°C fan, gas 4. Line the bottom and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until the mixture is fully combined. You may want to taste the mixture for sweetness and add more sweetener if necessary.
  3. Pour the mixture into the tray, then place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. The brownies will be very soft as they come out of the oven, but will firm up as they cool. It's always better to undercook rather than overcook your brownies.
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