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Your guide to better-for-you holiday baking

Caroline Del Col

Baking is a big part of the holiday season — and there’s a big difference when it comes to ingredients. Before making your next batch, check out these tips then check out some delicious recipes from our brand partners featuring some better-for-you products. Yum!


  • Choose unbromated and unbleached. Bleached flour uses harsh chemicals like chlorine gas to soften flour (but it’s an unnecessary step) while bromated flours are treated with potassium bromate, which has been linked to cancer.
  • Look for the USDA Organic to ensure the grains are grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate.


  • Opt for cane sugar rather than sugar from sugar beets, which is one of the most common genetically modified crops. 
  • USDA Organic sugar is grown without the use of toxic and persistent herbicides, or pesticides.
  • Sugar that’s certified Fair Trade helps support growers in developing countries to create better trading conditions and more sustainable farming. 


  • USDA Organic products are made with milk from cows only fed organic feed (which is always non-GMO and grown without persistent pesticides) and aren’t given antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones. 
  • The Grass-Fed label means cows get nearly all of their nutrition from grass and have ample access to pasture.
  • Pasture-raised means cows are raised in an outdoor, pasture-based system.


  • Look for USDA Organic, which means raised on organic farms, only fed organic feed (non-GMO and grown without toxic or persistent pesticides) and not given antibiotics or growth hormones. 
  • Cage-free eggs are from hens that are not confined in cages
  • Free-range eggs come from hens that are cage-free and have access to the outdoors. 
  • Pasture-raised means hens spend most of their time outdoors
  • Certified Humane imposes strict requirements for animal care including sufficient roosting space, ample living space and shelter, gentle handling and access to fresh water.

Now be sure to use these smarter essentials to create your own holiday baked goods. Need some inspiration? Our brand partners sure do deliver….

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies from Bob’s Red Mill



  1. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Bring sugar, butter, milk and cocoa powder to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Then add oats, stirring well until completely incorporated.
  4. Scoop 1-2 tablespoon mounds of the cocoa mixture onto the prepared sheet pan (a small cookie scoop or spoon works well). Cool completely before serving.

Frosted Holiday Shortbread Cookies from Organic Valley 



  1. Combine the three flours and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to combine.
  2. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add brown and granulated sugars and vanilla; beat until smooth, lighter in color and fluffy. Add dry ingredients; mix on low speed until well-blended.
  3. Form dough into two disks; wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 45 minutes or up to one week.
  4. Heat oven to 350º F.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1⁄4 -inch thickness. Using cookie cutters dipped in flour, cut out cookies; place on a large cookie sheet(s) lined with parchment paper. Chill 10 minutes before baking.
  6. Bake chilled cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of the cookies begin to brown very slightly. The centers should remain light in color. Place cookie sheets on wire racks; cool completely.
  7. For the Frosting: In a small bowl, whisk 2 Tablespoons cream into powdered sugar until sugar dissolves and thickens. Continue adding cream 1 teaspoon at a time to achieve desired spreading consistency.
  8. Frost cookies and add sprinkles if desired.

Gluten-Free Sweet And Salty Brownies from Wholesome


  • 1¼ cups Fair Trade semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large cage-free organic eggs
  • 1 cup Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsweetened Fair Trade cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. kosher or fine sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups salted, dry roasted peanuts, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Line a 9×12 baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Put the chocolate chips and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to roughly combine.
  4. Add the eggs, organic coconut palm sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, espresso powder and vanilla and blitz until combined (batter is supposed to be lumpy).
  5. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the top and gently press into the batter.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the batter is set and it feels slightly firm to the touch. The outer edges will be a little drier than the inside. Cut into squares.

Soft & Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies from Vital Farms


Ginger Syrup

  • 2 cups fresh ginger root, unpeeled, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups water


Ginger Syrup 1. In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the ginger, sugar, and water to a boil. 2. Boil for 45 to 60 minutes or until it registers 220 F on an instant read thermometer 3. Remove the pan from the burner and carefully strain the syrup into a heat-safe container. Store in the refrigerator indefinitely (yields about 1 cup). You can use the extra syrup to get creative with other recipes, like a holiday themed cocktail, salad dressing or poured over pancakes!

Cookies 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets. 2. Cream together the Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Unsalted Butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 3. Beat in the molasses, ¼ cup of the ginger syrup, baking soda, salt, and spices. 4. Add the Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs, beating well between each to make sure everything is incorporated. 5. Stir in the King Arthur All-Purpose flour. 6. Scoop the soft dough into 1 1/2″ balls; (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) and roll them in granulated sugar, coarse sugar, or pearl sugar. 7. Space the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 1/2″ between them. 8. Bake for 8- 10 minutes. The centers will look soft and puffy; that’s OK. 9. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool them on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Hot Chocolate Cookies from Nellie’s Free Range


For the cookies:

For the toppings:

  • 10 to 12 normal-sized marshmallows, chilled (see notes)
  • )¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • mini marshmallows or chopped peppermint candies, optional


To make the cookies: 1. Preheat the oven to 375F.

2. Combine the butter and ¾ cup of the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 40-60 seconds on low, stirring every 20 seconds until completely melted and smooth.

3. Remove the bowl from the microwave and add the sugar, hot cocoa mix (see notes), and egg, mixing again until well blended.

4. Stir the flour into the mixture until combined. Fold in the remaining ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the parchment, leaving 1 inch between each cookie.

6. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 8-9 minutes.

To prepare the toppings:

  • While the cookies are baking, remove the marshmallows from the freezer and slice in half with kitchen shears.
  • When the cookies have baked for 8-9 minutes, remove the cookies from the oven and carefully press a marshmallow half, cut side down, onto the center of each cookie.
  • Return the cookies to the oven and bake for an additional 1-2 minutes, allowing the marshmallows to soften and slightly melt.
  • Remove the cookies from oven and set aside to cool.

To assemble the cookies:

  •  While the cookies are cooling, warm the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, stirring every 20 seconds, until completely melted and smooth.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into a resealable plastic bag to create your own DIY piping bag. Carefully cut a small corner of the bag.
  • Squeeze the chocolate slowly out of the cut corner of the plastic bag to drizzle over your cookies.
  • Decorate your cookies with sprinkles of chopped candy canes or mini marshmallows and enjoy!

Momma's Blueberry Cobbler from Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs


  • ½ cup butter, softened, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • Cinnamon sugar for topping

Directions 1. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet with butter and set aside. 2. In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add in eggs one at a time.In a separate bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. 3. Add to the wet mixture and mix until well combined. Mix in vanilla extract and pour batter into prepared cast iron skillet, then sprinkle the blueberries over top. 4. Place skillet in a cold oven. Turn the heat to 350F and bake cobbler for 45-55 minutes, or until batter is set and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. 5. Remove cake from oven and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top. Serve warm with ice cream and share with family and friends (food always tastes better that way).

Vegan Blackberry Mousse Tart with Raw Brownie Crust from Ripple


Raw Brownie Crust:

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Blackberry Mousse:

  • ¼ cup Ripple Original Plant-Based Milk
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar powder
  • 8 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 8 ounces non-dairy cream cheese
  • ¼ cup maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut cream


  1. To make the crust, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until mixture becomes a sticky, dough-like consistency. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Chill at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring plant-based milk and agar agar powder to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until powder has dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. In a high-speed blender, combine the blackberries, non-dairy cream cheese, maple sugar, and lemon zest. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add agar agar mixture and blend until well combined. Fold in coconut cream.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared crust and use an offset spatula to smooth the top into an even layer. Refrigerate 8-12 hours.
  5. Once set, remove from tart pan, decorate as desired and slice. Serve immediately and return remaining to the refrigerator.

Cosmic Brownies Topped with SkinnyDipped Peanut Butter & Jelly Peanuts from SkinnyDipped



  • 1 cup Salted Butter (melted) • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup coco powder
  • ½ tsp salt


  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Cosmic sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup SkinnyDipped Peanut Butter & Jelly Peanuts (lightly crushed)



  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine your melted butter, sugar and brown sugar and mix until combined. Add your eggs, vanilla, corn syrup and mix until combine.
  • In the same bowl add your flour, coco powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  • Line a 9×9 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Allow the parchment paper to hang over the edges for easy removal.
  • Transfer your brownie batter to your baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool


  • In a medium sauce pan add your heavy cream and simmer on medium low heat until lightly simmering.
  • Place your semi sweet chocolate in a heat proof bowl
  • Pour your hot cream over your chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes. stir rigorously until completely melted.
  • Pour your frosting over your brownies and spread out evenly
  • While the frosting is still warm sprinkle on your cosmic sprinkles and crushed SkinnyDipped

Peanut Butter & Jelly Peanuts

  • Place in the fridge and let frosting cool until frosting is hard to the touch.
  • Cut and enjoy!
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