Having A Ball With Spirited Holiday Treats

As we near the end of the year, I would like to dedicate this column to all of my wonderful readers, who for the past 26 years have been sending me kind letters with suggestions, recipes and questions. May you all keep the ones you love close to you, cherish the time you have together and have a peaceful, healthy new year!

Walnuts have been cultivated for thousands of years and were introduced into Europe by the Romans. It was once thought that walnuts could ward off headaches, because the shape of the walnut closely resembles the shape of the human brain. The leaves of the walnut tree contain an antibiotic substance. Walnuts are an excellent source of copper and magnesium, and a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid and thiamine. They contain fiber, phosphorus, niacin, iron, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

To get into the spirit of Christmas, share these delicious treats with friends and family. They keep well and are great with some hot chocolate or warm apple cider.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!


* 3 cups vanilla wafers, finely crushed
* 1 cup 10X powdered sugar
* 1/2 cup chopped candied cherries (snip with cooking shears, it’s easier)
* 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon melted Smart Balance margarine (no trans fats)
* 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/3 cup bourbon (if you prefer non-alcoholic, use orange juice or apple juice)
* powdered sugar and finely chopped nuts, to roll cookies in

Mix wafer crumbs, 1 cup powdered sugar, nuts, cherries, margarine, corn syrup and cocoa in large bowl. Stir bourbon into crumb mixture until evenly distributed. Let mixture stand 20 minutes to meld flavors.

Shape mixture into 1-inch balls; roll half the balls in nuts and half in powdered sugar. Put in airtight container placing waxed paper in between layers to prevent sticking.

Makes about 50.

Note: It’s better if you let them rest overnight to enhance flavor.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Piece:

Calories: 100
Fat: 3 grams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Sodium: 40 milligrams

Diana Helfand, authorof “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program. heartychef@hotmail.com