POV: You invite Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a registered dietitian to your holiday party. Any guesses on what she’s bringing? Assuming crudité or leafy greens makes sense, but that’s not Largeman-Roth’s version of “festive.” What is: a holiday cookie spread.

Largeman-Roth is a nutrition and entertaining expert that has mastered the art of keeping a family of five well-fed and happy. Her newest cookbook—Everyday Snack Tray—is living proof. The gorgeous guide features anecdotes about entertaining and tons of creative inspiration for gathering around delicious foods…cookies (and more cookies) included.

The season wouldn’t be complete without the sheer joy of freshly-baked cookies dunked in hot cocoa, so we are all ears. Ahead, Largeman-Roth shares her tips for building an RD-approved cookie platter that will bring very cheerful vibes to your soul—and belly. Plus, an easy ginger molasses cookie recipe that’s guaranteed to steal the show at your next cookie exchange.

Dietitian-approved holiday cookie platter ideas filled with cheer

1. Gather a game plan, and be fearless

Largeman-Roth’s top tip? Go big or go home. “Go as big on this tray as your imagination will take you,” she says. In other words, don’t be afraid to include whatever you want—it’s not worth overthinking. Her perfect holiday cookie platter mix includes: ginger molasses cookies, candy canes, sugar cookies, fudge, peppermint bark, mandarin oranges, and toffee chunks. You don’t need to be a cookie monster to partake.

2. Rely on store-bought ingredients

Aside from the ginger molasses cookies (recipe up ahead), the rest of the components for this holiday cookie platter can be picked up in stores. When hosting friends and family (and getting in your last-minute shopping trips) become a stressful priority, Largeman-Roth says relying on store-bought items can help alleviate holiday-related burnout and make your life easier.

3. Include a variety of textures

Including crunchy, crispy, fudgey components are just some of the many ways to make a holiday cookie platter as sensorially enticing as possible. “Instead of having foods that are all one-note, include creamy along with crunchy and something sweet to balance spicy flavors,” Largeman-Roth says. It’s all about “delighting the senses,” she notes.

4. Choose a cohesive color theme

They say you eat with your eyes, which is why Largeman-Roth says a holiday cookie platter can be even more (!) enticing if it has a cohesive color theme. Red and green assortments tend to be a Christmas win.

5. Keep things bite-sized

Finger foods are even easier to toss in your mouth if they come in small, bite-sized portions. (And the minier the cookies, the more you can sample before your cookie-induced nap time rolls around.) “Boards of all kinds are for snacking first and foremost, so keep everything in nibble-able form,” Largeman-Roth says. “This applies to savory grazing boards, too. Instead of putting a block of cheese on a tray, slice several pieces and leave a cheese knife handy. Cut fruits and veggies into pieces that can be easily snacked on or picked up with a toothpick.” And I mean, mini cookies: Enough said!

Ginger molasses cookies recipe

Yields 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients
For the dough:

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/4 Tsp salt
2 Tsp ground ginger
3/4 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 Tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 1/4 Tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

For rolling:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 Tsp ground ginger
1/8 Tsp ground cardamom

1. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.

2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer at medium speed. Beat in the egg. Add the molasses and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in two to three additions until just incorporated. Stir in the crystallized ginger with a spatula. The dough should be very soft.

3. Form the dough into a ball and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, ginger, and cardamom for rolling.

5. With your hands, roll the dough into one-inch balls, then gently roll those in the sugar mixture. Place three inches apart on the baking sheets.

6. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, until the tops crack and the cookies are set. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

The one and only healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe you’ll ever need:


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