Disclosure: For this post, I’ve teamed up with Madhava Natural Sweeteners. I received 2 bags of their Better Baking Blend to try, and I am being compensated for my recipe development and photography; all opinions are 100% mine.

This is going to be a jam-packed post! Madhava asked me to discuss how I stay healthy during the holiday season so I’ll be talking about that below, and I’m going to share a recipe I created featuring Madhava’s Organic Better Baking Blend. I’m also going to tell you about Madhava’s Healthier Holidays social media contest, and I am giving away a bunch of Madhava products, too!

I don’t really approach the holidays any differently than I do “regular” days when it comes to food, exercise, and other healthy habits. I am consistent about eating well and getting regular exercise all the time, including during the holiday season. While the holidays are definitely busier, and there are more opportunities for overindulging in treats and skipping the exercise, I just try not to do too much of either one of these. I work treats into my regular diet on a daily basis so I have no reason to overconsume these at parties, on vacation, etc., and I get to the gym and walk as much as I can. That said, if I do overeat now and then, I don’t stress about it…I just go back to my “regularly scheduled programming” the next day. (I also make sure I get plenty of sleep!)

Cookies are one of my favorite treats. To keep them healthier I like to make my own (I included many of my favorites in my new Holiday Treats eBook!), and when I eat them, I do so in moderation. For me, this generally means 2 homemade cookies, usually after dinner when I am in the mood for something sweet.

These sugar cookies that I made with the Madhava’s Better Baking Blend are delicious. Their thickness (and not overbaking them) results in a delightfully chewy cookie. Use the bottom of a patterned glass jar to give them a distictive design, if you like.

If you don’t have access to Madhava’s Better Baking Blend, you can use coconut sugar or dark brown sugar in these cookies.

To enter Madhava’s Healthier Holidays contest, please visit this link, where you’ll find information on how you can share recipes on Pinterest and possibly win one of Madhava’s gift packs or grand prize.

And to enter my giveaway for A Mix and Match Package from Madhava Sweeteners, please leave a comment on this post about your favority holiday treat (I want to know what it is!). For extra entries, you can “like” Madhava on Facebook, follow Madhava on Pinterest, follow Madhava on twitter, or follow Madhava on Instagram. For each extra entry, please leave an additional comment letting me know.

Official Rules: This giveaway ends on Monday December 29, 2014 at midnight EST. I will choose a winner via random.com and I’ll email the winner on that day. The winner will have 48 hours to provide me with their shipping address. If no shipping address is furnished, I will choose another winner. You must be 18 years or older to enter this giveaway. No purchase is necessary to enter or win this giveaway.

Recipe for Chewy Sugar Cookies

Yield: Makes 14 cookies

Ingredients:

*1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
*3/4 cup Madhava Better Baking Blend (or coconut sugar or dark brown sugar)
*1 egg yolk
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
*1/4 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg yolk and the vanilla and mix well.

3. Combine the flour with the baking powder and the salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well blended.

4. At this point, if you want to make rolled/cut-out cookies, you should wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is thoroughly chilled. You could also make a "log" out of the dough, freeze it, and then make "slice and bake" cookies. The third option (and what I did for the cookies you see in this post) is to shape the dough into balls, which you can flatten a bit with a metal spatula or the bottom of a glass (use a glass with a pattern and you'll end up with patterned cookies). I weighed each dough ball before baking to ensure they ended up the same size- each ball weighted 1 ounce. Don't flatten them too much, because a bit of thickness helps them keep their shape/ensures they stay chewy, and place on a parchment paper or silpat-lined cookie sheet.

5. Bake for until slightly brown on the bottoms and around the edges. In my oven, this takes 14-15 minutes.