Holiday Cookies: Recipe for no-bake cranberry coconut bites

12 Days of Holiday Cookies: Recipe for no-bake cranberry coconut bites

For anyone who loves macaroons, these chewy, cranberry-speckled no-bake cookies should help you satisfy your coconut cravings.

Feel free to decorate these cookies however you like. We prefer to roll them in yet more shredded coconut (toasted is a nice touch), but you also could roll them in chopped pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts; even pine nuts would be delicious. Or for a sweeter version, get colored decorating sugar from the baking supply shop and roll them in that.

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NO-BAKE CRANBERRY COCONUT BITES

Start to finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active)

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 cups shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch salt

1 cup chopped dried cranberries

1 cup toasted shredded coconut, finely chopped nuts or colored sugar

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the sweetened condensed milk, 4 cups of shredded coconut, the water, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until it forms a thick paste, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, then set aside off the heat and allow to cool completely.

Once the mixture has cooled, set out a bowl of toasted coconut, finely chopped nuts or colored sugar. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball in the coating of your choice. The cookies should be stored in an airtight container between layers of kitchen parchment or waxed paper.

Nutrition information per cookie: 110 calories; 60 calories from fat (55 per cent of total calories); 6 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g fibre; 11 g sugar; 1 g protein; 15 mg sodium.

By Alison Ladman, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

No-Bake Cranberry Coconut Bites

Photograph by: AP Photo, Matthew Mead

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for strawberry pistachio icebox cookies

By Alison Ladman, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

12 Days of Holiday Cookies: Recipe for strawberry pistachio icebox cookies

Freeze-dried strawberries add a potent blast of flavour to these cookies without watering down the dough. You’ll find them in the grocer’s natural foods section, or sometimes in the toddler food aisle. To crush them, either pulse them in a food processor or place them in a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over them.

The dough for these cookies is easily prepped ahead of time. Follow the recipe up through forming the dough into logs. The logs can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen up to three months. If frozen, allow them to thaw at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing and baking.

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STRAWBERRY PISTACHIO ICEBOX COOKIES

Start to finish: 3 hours 45 minutes (30 minutes active)

Makes 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup crushed freeze-dried strawberries

1 cup chopped shelled pistachios

Sanding (coarse decorating) sugar

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine. Stir in the flour until a dough just comes together. Stir in the strawberries and pistachios until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough in half. Using a sheet of waxed paper to help you work with the dough, shape each half into a log 1 1/2 inches around and 12 inches long. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 F.

Place the sanding sugar in a dinner plate. Unwrap one of the logs and roll it in the sugar to coat the sides. Using a paring knife, slice the log into about 30 rounds. To prevent the log from losing its shape, turn the log a little with each slice. Working in batches, arrange the slices on a baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between them.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining log.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie: 70 calories; 35 calories from fat (50 per cent of total calories); 4 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 0 g fibre; 4 g sugar; 1 g protein; 15 mg sodium.

By Alison Ladman, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

No-Bake Cranberry Coconut Bites

Photograph by: AP Photo, Matthew Mead

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for apple-orange spice drops

These drop cookies may be fast and easy to make, but they deliver big, bold flavour just right for the holidays.

We take a basic brown sugar and butter-based drop cookie dough, then add tons of deliciousness with a blend of cloves, allspice, nutmeg and orange zest. We also tinker with the texture, adding the delightful chew of tender dried apples. Top it all off with an orange glaze and you have a cookie that begs for an eggnog accompaniment.

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APPLE-ORANGE SPICE DROPS

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg

Zest of 1 orange

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups chopped dried apple

3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds (optional)

For the glaze:

1 tablespoon orange juice

2/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, almond extract, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, cloves, allspice and nutmeg until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Stir in the orange zest and orange juice, then the flour. Stir in the apples and the almonds, if using.

Working in batches, scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just pale golden brown on the bottoms. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheet to cool slightly between batches.

To make the glaze, whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over each cookie. Once the glaze sets, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie: 70 calories; 20 calories from fat (29 per cent of total calories); 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrate; 0 g fibre; 7 g sugar; 1 g protein; 40 mg sodium.

BY ALISON LADMAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Apple-orange Spice Drops
Photograph by: AP Photo , Matthew Mead

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for sweet-and-salty kitchen sink cookies

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for sweet-and-salty kitchen sink cookies

This is the cookie to make when you’re looking to clean out the cupboards. We’ve packed them with all manner of treats — and oddities — from rolled oats, peanuts and chocolate chips to chopped prunes, crushed potato chips and even coffee grounds (trust us on that last one). The more unusual the combination, the better the results.

But don’t feel you have to stop there. Got any other crackers, chips, nuts or dried fruit handy? Toss them in and let these cookies truly earn their kitchen sink name.

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SWEET-AND-SALTY KITCHEN SINK COOKIES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons previously brewed coffee grounds

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup chopped prunes

1 cup crushed wavy potato chips

1 cup salted peanuts

1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, both sugars, baking soda, baking powder and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and coffee grounds. Stir in the flour, then stir in the oats, prunes, potato chips, peanuts and chocolate.

Working in batches, scoop 1 tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until light golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheet to cool between batches. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie: 120 calories; 60 calories from fat (50 per cent of total calories); 6 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 1 g fibre; 8 g sugar; 2 g protein; 75 mg sodium.

BY ALISON LADMAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ice Cream Cone Caramel Date Bars
Photograph by: AP Photo, Matthew Mead

Ontario is about to scrap out-of-country emergency health care coverage

Travelling to the U.S.? Here’s what you need to know

The Star Vancouver

When Toronto resident Jill Wykes had a health scare over a racing heartbeat in Florida a few years back, the $3,000 hospital bill for a two-hour visit and three tests added insult to illness.

Fortunately, the seasoned snowbird had a comprehensive travel health insurance policy that paid the full tab.

But the incident, which turned out to be nothing serious, served as a reminder that medical emergencies can happen any time, anywhere.

Buying enough travel insurance to cover all eventualities becomes even more important for Ontario residents when the province scraps its out-of-country coverage of emergency health care expenses on Jan.1.

Until Dec. 31, OHIP will continue to pay up to $400 per day for emergency in-patient services and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient and doctor services. Starting next year though, that coverage stops.

A new program will provide kidney dialysis patients with $210 toward each treatment — actual prices in the U.S. range from $300 to $750 — but travellers will be on the hook for everything else.

The province says it’s cancelling the existing “inefficient” program because of the $2.8-million cost of administering $9 million in emergency medical coverage abroad each year. OHIP’s reimbursements also tended to offset only a fraction of the actual expenses.

Without private insurance, travellers can face “catastrophically large bills” for medical care, warns Ministry of Health spokesperson David Jensen, who “strongly encourages” people to purchase adequate coverage.

Health care south of the border, in particular, costs an arm and a leg. On average, fees in the U.S. are double those of other developed countries, according to the International Travel Insurance Group.

The insurance provider cites an array of costs, including: ambulance, $500 and up; ER visit, $150 to $3,000; hospital stay, $5,000 per day; MRI, $1,000 to $5,000; X-ray, $150 to $3,000; hip fracture, $13,000 to $40,000.

The monetary ouch factor can be especially painful for snowbirds, who are flocking to warm spots like Florida, Arizona and Texas in growing numbers as baby boomers reach retirement age.

But a significant number of vacationers of all ages are putting their financial health at risk.

According to a recent survey by InsuranceHotline.com, 34 per cent of Canadian respondents said they were unlikely to buy travel insurance, often in the mistaken belief their province would cover them. And 40 per cent had unrealistic expectations of health care costs, thinking, for example, that emergency medical evacuation would be under $2,000. In reality, the service can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Jill Wykes and her husband Pierre Lepage leave nothing to chance during winters in Sarasota, Fla., an annual trek since 2011 when she retired as a travel industry executive.

The couple, now in their 70s, purchase a multiple-trip plan with a 60-day top-up for their four-month sojourn, which includes driving there and back and flying home for two short visits. Her policy costs about $900 while his is $1,600, because he falls into an older age bracket. They’re each covered for up to $5 million.

Wykes, a blogger and editor of, snowbirdadvisor.ca, calls it “foolish” to travel anywhere without health insurance and advises against thinking “you would just drive or fly home if you were sick.” The financial fallout from an accident or sudden illness “can quickly rise into six figures” in the U.S., she adds.

Anne Marie Thomas of InsuranceHotline.com, which provides free quotes for all types of insurance, echoes Wykes’s advice.

“Now, more than ever, you need travel insurance because there will be zero coverage (as of Jan. 1),” she says.

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy and insurance can cover everything from trip cancellation or interruption to lost baggage and medical costs, Thomas explains, so it’s important to match your needs and situation. A sunseeker driving south, for instance, wouldn’t need trip cancellation.

SSQ Insurance continues with its digital healthcare strategy

SSQ Insurance partners with HALEO and MindBeacon Group in an effort to give its group insurance plan members access to digital cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These partnerships stem from the insurer’s desire to find innovative ways to satisfy the needs of its customers, namely through the deployment of a digital healthcare strategy. Through this modern, online approach, SSQ Insurance is hoping to help its customers with mental health management, specifically through the prevention and early detection of sleep- and stress-related problems as well as mood and anxiety disorders.

“Through our agreements with HALEO and MindBeacon, SSQ Insurance plan members will have access to the latest CBT advances and obtain therapy that is adapted to their specific situation, whether for sleep disorders, anxiety, or depression. By taking preventive action in a timely manner, we can ultimately help control group insurance plan costs,” said Éric Trudel, Senior Vice-President of Strategy and Product Management, SSQ Insurance.

HALEO and BEACON each offer innovative cognitive behavioural therapies delivered online by qualified healthcare professionals. HALEO’s CBT focuses on sleep disorders whereas BEACON’s focuses on mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. In both cases, the insured determines the pace and platform on which the therapy is applied, making CBT a simple and accessible option.

Through these partnerships, SSQ Insurance proposes a variety of content on stress- and sleep-habit management in order to raise awareness about these problems and learn to recognize them. For those who feel concerned, they can also take a test to evaluate whether or not the HALEO or BEACON approach is right for them.

About SSQ Insurance
Founded in 1944, SSQ Insurance is a mutualist company that puts community at the heart of insurance. With assets under management of $12 billion, SSQ Insurance is one of the largest companies in the industry. Working for a community of over three million customers, SSQ Insurance employs over 2,000 people. Leader in group insurance, the company also sets itself apart through its expertise in individual life and health insurance, general insurance and the investment sector. For more information, please visit ssq.ca.

About HALEO


HALEO is an online sleep clinic with a mission to make evidence-based solutions accessible for people experiencing insomnia or poor sleep.  We provide professional, clinically-proven treatment that takes half the time and at half the cost of traditional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, all without having to set foot in a clinic or join a long waiting list.  Our team of specialized therapists uses live videoconferencing, chat and an array of therapeutic tools integrated into our mobile sleep clinic app to help clients from across Canada overcome their sleep problems. For more information, please visit haleoclinic.com.

About MindBeacon Group
The MindBeacon Group is committed to providing evidence-based mental health therapy that is accessible whenever and wherever it is needed. With the goal of empowering individuals to live their best lives, MindBeacon Group brings ground-breaking innovation and current clinical best practice to the development and delivery of mental healthcare. Their clinical practice began with CBT Associates, a network of Greater Toronto Area-based clinics that provides in-person and virtual care to individuals across Ontario. In 2017, the BEACON™ digital platform was introduced as the first commercially-available clinician-guided iCBT service available across Canada. mindbeacon.com

SOURCE SSQ Insurance

 

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