Give Santa a healthy option: an apple to go with that cookie

Fishers, N.Y. – Santa deserves choices.

That’s the message from the New York Apple Association (NYAA), which is calling on children across the state to leave a New York state apple for Santa along with those cookies this Christmas Eve.

Serving Santa sugar cookies? Pair them with sweet-tart McIntosh or Empire, both in-state natives. Plating some spicy gingerbread people? Accompany them with a sweet, mild Gala or Golden Delicious (the short, squat New York state kind). Chocolate chip cookies? Red Rome is the perfect tart counterpoint.

Looking to kill two birds with one stone? Bake up a batch of apple cookies for the big guy.

“Put yourself in Santa’s shoes, you can only eat so many cookies before you’d want another option too,” said Registered Dietitian Linda Quinn, NYAA’s consulting dietitian. “And crunchy, juicy apples are a smart choice too, because apples combine natural fruit sugars with lots of fiber to regulate Santa’s energy over time.”

“We aren’t nutrition nannies, but it is a good thing that kids can learn about healthy eating at the same time they are making memories and having fun,” added Quinn.

Empire Apple Cookies

1 cup New York State Empire* apples, finely chopped (about 1 medium-sized apple)

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

1 cup all bran breakfast cereal

1/4 cup milk

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped nuts

*Alternately, use any sweet-tart New York state apple categorized as suitable for baking.

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices; set aside. In a large bowl, blend butter and brown sugar; add egg and beat well. Add the breakfast cereal, milk and flour mixture; beat well. Stir in raisins and nuts until well combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool slightly on pans, then turn out onto racks.

Yield: About 4 dozen

New YouTube Video Features Christmas Recipes

Quinn stars in a new YouTube video offering suggestions for incorporating delicious, nutritious, family-friendly apples into your Christmas menus – and even decorating. View the Christmas video on NYAA’s YouTube channel,