Two Healthy Holiday Desserts from a Yoga Retreat Chef

Jeremy Rock Smith is the executive chef at Kripalu.

As holiday invitations pile up, you’re going to need to branch out from classic cut-out sugar cookies. If you can do so while slashing a few calories from your party spread, even better.

Here to help is Jeremy Rock Smith, the executive chef at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, one of the best-known wellness retreats in the country. Smith gave us the recipes for two Kripalu favorites—ginger molasses cookies and vegan brownies—to give your holidays a decidedly zen touch.

Ginger molasses cookies

Ginger molasses cookies/photo provided

Ginger Molasses Cookies


  • 5 ounces butter (or vegan alternative)
  • 1 cup sucanat (unrefined cane sugar)
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 egg (or egg replacement)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

First, cream the butter and sucanat in a mixer, then add the molasses. Add all of the dry ingredients, then add the eggs and water. With an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not press down. Bake for roughly 19 minutes.


Brownies/Photo provided

Vegan Brownies


  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup whole spelt flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 3 tbsp vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie pan or square baking pan.

Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl, and the last four ingredients in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon.

Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.


Need more recipes? Check out chef Joanne Chang’s low-sugar favorites here.