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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

How to make healthy "gingerbread" houses for the holidays

jhartrick

We here at Operation Frontline Detroit are busily preparing for healthy snack workshops that we're holding for kids on holiday break. We spent an afternoon playing with our food--and then eating it--in order to get ready for this fun project we'll be doing in a couple of weeks. We love our job! Check out our handiwork:

 Making traditional gingerbread houses can be unhealthy with all the sweet treats, i.e. candies, chocolates and royal icing. This holiday why not try making a healthier home--and then eating it when you are done!

Here's how to make a basic house with suggested ingredients. Play around with what works for you. For example, I (@Dorothy) used peanut butter, which made for a great smelling and tasting home that unfortunately did not last two "remodelings." If you're looking to eat your house immediately, then peanut butter may be the way to go. Otherwise, the best "glue" that we found was cream cheese (try to use low-fat!) and a homemade prune paste/puree that one of our resident chefs, Dameon, made at home.

Ingredients

Graham crackers (if you can try to get the best quality graham crackers because you will have a better foundation for your house)

Cream cheese, prune puree or peanut butter for "glue"

Decorations: fruit leathers, shredded coconut, whole-grain cereals like frosted shredded wheat or Cheerios, dried fruits, pretzels, nuts

A pie plate (foil is fine) or paper plate. If you're going to make a village like what we did above, some inexpensive vinyl tablecloths will be good for laying out the village "grass" or "concrete" or whatever look you're going for.

Steps for a basic home:

1) Set aside six graham crackers. For kids, let them use a plastic serrated knife. These surprisingly work well with cutting. Two will be the sides, two will be for the roof and two will be cut to be used for the "gables."

2) Place one graham cracker on a flat surface. Angle the short end of another cracker from the center of the long side to the center of the cracker, slice off the edges on both sides so you will end up with a graham cracker that has a triangle on one side. Repeat with another cracker. You'll find that it might be difficult to do this without breaking some at first. No matter--you can just use the 'damage' as a snack!

3) Using your "glue," smear it over the edges of your crackers, putting a pointy cracker with an uncut cracker, (place it lengthwise), then glue on another pointy cracker and finally glue on another uncut cracker. At this point you will have a rectangular home that needs a roof.

4) Put some more glue on the edges of the two other crackers that you set aside and place them carefully on top of the other crackers, making a triangular shape at the top. There's your roof!

 5) Here's the fun part: Decorating! This is where your imagination will run wild. Use the fruit leathers as shutters and/or walkways. Pretzel logs are great for fencing or the sides of the house if you're going for a log cabin. Dried fruits make great various decorations on the home. To make roof shingles, mini shredded wheats with frosting give off a realistic snowy look (try cutting them in half so the house isn't so top heavy) or use banana chips. The sky is the limit!

6) Admire your home--or dig in!