In the mountains of Le Marche, in central Italy, where I grew up, it's pretty cold, and we had lots of snowy Christmases. My parents always bought the ingredients for our feast from neighboring farms or friends' stores, and every year my father would buy fresh chestnuts and roast them in a special perforated pan he kept in the oven. When I decided, at age 13, to make chestnut soup, my dad was skeptical, but he quickly fell in love with it. This soup was one of the first dishes I cooked that made me want to be a chef. It's very hearty; if you add a slice of roasted sausage you have a meal. To me, the holiday season wouldn't be the same without chestnut soup.
Chocolate chip cookies may just be the most beloved cookie in the country, not to mention the undoing of many healthy eaters. This chocolate-chip-cookie rehab uses date puree to give moisture to the cookies without any added fat. Made from cooked dates and water, date puree can be substituted one-for-one in place of oil or butter fat in most dessert recipes. Unsweetened cocoa powder, egg whites, whole-wheat flour and just a half-cup of mini chocolate chips come together to create a soft, chewy and low-fat chocolate chip cookie with a nicely crisped outer edge. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to two days.
Our December issue features Oprah's Favorite Things—as well as your chance to win them all! You'll also find our easy holiday declutter plan, Dr. Oz's guide to sleeping better (starting tonight) and the ultimate holiday menu.