Is your mouth watering yet?

Most families have that one recipe, that one secret that no one else can get ahold of. For me growing up, this recipe is my mother’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The elation my sister and I would experience upon coming home from school and stepping into a kitchen wafting with gooey pumpkin and melting chocolate cannot be explained. Lucky for you, these tasty morsels are as healthy as cookies can get, which is why the recipe is finally being made public.

Fall is different from any other season during the year. Of course there are the leaves that change for a couple of short months (or weeks depending where you live) there’s Halloween – the only day of the year it is okay to eat an entire pillow case full of candy, and there is the feeling in the air that you are just on the brink of winter: crisp enough for a jacket, but not quite freezing yet. Fall is a favorite for many because of these characteristics, but for some, fall is a favorite because of the food.

Every season has its own special treat: winter has Christmas cookies, summer has barbeques, spring is filled with chocolate Easter eggs and jelly beans, but fall is the only season where it is easy to indulge in seasonal treats without going over-board. This doesn’t mean all fall treats are healthy, (I’m looking at you, Pumpkin Spice Creme Frappuccino) but there are two key fall ingredients that have healthy written all over them: pumpkin and apples.

Pumpkin is everywhere this time of year. Everything from coffee to cheesecake gets pumpkin-fied, but the simplest way to steer clear of the “bad” pumpkin goodies and focus on the healthy ones is to make it yourself. As I mentioned above, my mother’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies take healthy treats to an entirely new level, a level where cookies can actually be a nutritious dessert. Unfortunately, I don’t have any family apple recipes to give up, but there are plenty of ways to keep this fruit as wholesome as possible in homemade dishes.

Take this recipe spotted on Fitsugar.com. It is a traditional apple dessert but with an added fruit: pears! Apple crisp can be full of vitamins and natural sweeteners when made the right way, and with the added pears, there is even more of an incentive to take a bite out of this warm, fall favorite.

Apple Pear Oatmeal Crisp

Ingredients

2 sliced apples
3 sliced firm pears
2 tablespoons Sucanat
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup water

Topping

1 cup oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup Sucanat
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of margarine, melted

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Remove the cores and slice the unpeeled fruit. Place slices in the bottom of a greased nine-inch dish. 

3. Drizzle with lemon juice.
4. Sprinkle two tablespoons of Sucanat, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and water on the fruit.
5. In separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add melted margarine and mix until crumbly.
6. Spread the crumb mixture evenly on top of the fruit.
7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, so the top is lightly brown and the fruit is bubbly.
8. Serve warm or cold.

The special ingredient in this dish is the Sucanet, which can be found at most natural food stores. Sucanat is pure cane sugar, so it is more of a natural sweetener than the usual processed white cane sugar. If you are more in the mood for pumpkin than apples, make sure to try my Mom’s famous recipe below.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Just Like Mom Makes)

Ingredients:

4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2-3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup soft margarine
3/4 cup fat free sour cream, fat free plain yogurt or applesauce (or a combination of these)
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 egg whites
1 can pumpkin
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, set aside.
3. Mix margarine and other wet ingredients with the brown sugar. Add dry ingredients slowly and mix well.
4. Add the chocolate chips.
5. Drop tablespoon size cookies on a baking sheet and cook for about 12 minutes, or until they just start to brown.
6. These are best served warm. They will only stay fresh for about a week, but you can freeze them for as long as you like and enjoy them anytime.

Make sure to try these recipes while you still can! Fall is a short season, and even though you can make these year-round, they just really don’t taste the same any other time of year. I might be biased, but seriously, you need to make these pumpkin cookies — now!

What’s your favorite fall treat?

♥AUTHOR: MEGHAN McCLOSKEY