Holiday Cookie Swap Recipes from Evette Rios

by Together Counts Partner | December 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm | comments

Looking for a special twist on your annual holiday cookie swap? This week, I’m spotlighting some delicious versions of my favorite holiday treats with simple calorie-saving swaps! Surprise your family and friends this season with these great-tasting cookies everyone will love!!

Evette Rios is a partner of Together Counts™, a program that inspires calorie balance from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. She is also host of “Recipe Rehab” on CBS. For more from Evette, visit:

Coconut Lime Jam Oat Bars

coconut lime jam


1 cup raw brazil nuts

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats

1 cup raw almonds 1/2 cup shredded coconut

8 Medjool dates , soaked in water for 15 minutes

2 bananas

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 tsp fresh lime zest

3-4 Tbsp coconut oil

pinch of sea salt

  1. Process everything in food processor until mixed together. Spread onto a parchment paper-lined half-sheet tray or small rectangular baking dish. Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Cut into bars. Spread a very thin layer of lime jam and sprinkle coconut flakes on top. Enjoy!

Lime Jam:

6 medium limes

3 cups water

A few cups of stevia as described below

  1. Soak 3 cups of water and thinly sliced limes overnight.
  2. Add limes and water to heavy-bottom pan. Simmer on low heat covered for 45 minutes until rinds are soft.

Remove mixture. Let cool slightly. Add to measuring cup to determine how much liquid remains. Add equal parts sugar to water ratio. Return to pot. Bring to simmer and allow sugar to dissolve fully before bringing to rapid boil for 15-18 minutes (stirring infrequently) until mixture turns into a jelly-like consistency. Cool fully before adding to oat bars.

Slow-Cooker Fudge Recipe



2-1/2 cups dark Chocolate Chips

1/2 cup coconut milk, (canned, not in a carton)

1/4 cup coconut sugar, optional honey or maple syrup

Dash of sea salt

2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Fudge is perfect for the slow cooker because it doesn’t scorch or burn.

  1. Add chocolate chips, coconut milk, coconut sugar, salt, and coconut oil, stir to combine. Next, cover and cook on low 2 hours without stirring. It’s important that lid remain on during the 2 hours.
  2. After 2 hours, turn the slow cooker off, uncover, and add vanilla. IMPORTANT: Do not stir fudge mixture at this point. Allow to cool to room temperature, or it reaches 110 degrees with a candy thermometer.
  3. Once cooled, use a large spoon, stir vigorously for 5-10 minutes until it loses some of the gloss.
  4. Lightly oil an 8″x8″ square pan. Pour fudge into pan, cover and refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. This fudge is very rich and meant to be eaten on occasion as a treat.

Four-Layer Bar Recipe

4 Layer Bar

Ingredients Crust:

3⁄4 cup blanched almond flour (you can make your own in my food processor)

3⁄4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1⁄8 cup unrefined coconut oil, liquid

1⁄2 Tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

Ingredients Layers:

1 can (13.5 oz) full-fat coconut milk

1⁄2 cup coconut sugar

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1⁄2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a square (8×8) glass baking dish with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients for the crust in a large bowl and press firmly into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until your crust is golden brown in color. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  2. While crust is cooling, in a saucepan over medium heat bring coconut milk and sugar to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture has reduced by half. The coconut milk mixture should be thick reduced to about 3⁄4 cup. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk over the crust and spread to the edges.
  3. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the condensed milk, then the flaked coconut, and then the pecans. Using your hands, press the mixture down a tiny bit until the milk soaks upward into the layers.
  4. Place in oven (still at 350) and bake for about 30 minutes, until edges are browning a bit. Remove from oven and cool for 30 to 60 minutes on a cooling rack. Once the bars have cooled a bit, place the pan in the refrigerator to allow the bars to set-up for at least two hours (or overnight). If you’re in a rush you could put the bars in the freezer for an hour instead.After cooling, lift the parchment out of the pan and place bars on a cutting board or other flat surface. If the bars are coming from the freezer, you may need to let them thaw for a few minutes before cutting as they will be pretty firm. Cut bars into 16 squares and dig in! Any leftover bars should be wrapped or placed in a sealed container. They can be left out for a couple days or stored in the fridge or freezer for longer storage.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Sugar Cookies


2 sticks butter, softened

6 tablespoons powdered stevia

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon liquid vanilla stevia

21⁄2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Stevia Glaze:

1 cup powdered stevia

2 tbsp almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Combine ingredients to form a glaze. If glaze is too thick, incrementally add more milk until reaches desired consistency.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a stand mixer combine butter, powdered stevia, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.
  5. Beat in eggs, vanilla and liquid stevia until well blended.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour.
  7. Using a tablespoon, roll into balls and bake 10 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. To make cut out shapes spread dough* between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll to 1⁄4 inch thickness and use cookie cutters to shape.
  9. Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.

*Using half of this dough makes 18-20 cookies.

Peanut Butter “Kiss” Cookie Recipe

Kiss Cookie


1/4 cup butter-flavored shortening

1 cup + a little less than 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 egg

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

3 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup potato starch

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

48 Hersheys “kisses” size dark chocolate chunks

  1. In a large bowl, beat shortening, brown sugar and peanut butter until blended. Beat in egg, applesauce and vanilla (mixture will appear curdled). In another bowl, whisk rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°. Shape dough into forty-eight 1-in. balls; place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes or until slightly cracked. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into center of each cookie. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 dozen.

Brownie Recipe



For the brownie:

Cooking spray

1 1/2 average-sized ripe to very ripe Hass avocado, very well mashed

1⁄4 cup coconut oil

1 large egg

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1⁄2 cup light agave

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon instant espresso

½ can no calorie cola

3 tablespoons ground flax seed

3⁄4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

1⁄2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour

1⁄4 cup pecans

1⁄4 cup walnuts

1/8 cup grated unsweetened coconut

  1. For the topping: 1⁄4 cup pecans 1⁄4 cup walnuts 1/8 cup grated unsweetened coconut 1/8 cup toffee chips
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang; spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. Into a food processor, add mashed avocado, 1⁄4 cup coconut oil, 1 large egg, 2/3 cup sugar, 1⁄2 cup light agave, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 3 teaspoons instant espresso, and 3 tablespoons ground flax seed. Puree until smooth.
  4. Next, add 3⁄4 of a cup of unsweetened dark cocoa powder, and 1⁄2 a cup of gluten- free flour to the processor. Pulse to combine, and make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Finally, add the 1⁄4 cup of pecans, 1⁄4 cup of walnuts, and 1/8 cup of unsweetened coconut and incorporate.
  6. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  7. In a bowl, combine 1⁄4 cup pecans, 1⁄4 cup walnuts, 1/8 cup grated unsweetened coconut, and 1/8 cup toffee chips. Evenly sprinkle the topping over the top of the brownies.
  8. Bake the brownies for 35 minutes, or until the top has just set; make sure the brownies are not too jiggly in the center, and that the edges have firmed up.
  9. Insert a toothpick in the center of the brownie to test for doneness; make sure no wet batter comes out on the toothpick.
  10. Allow brownies to cool completely in pan on top of wire rack.
  11. After brownies have cooled for at least 30 minutes, lift them out with parchment overhang and slice. Brownie crumbs will cling heavily to your knife; wipe the knife off with a paper towel in between slices.