The holidays are here, and it is time to savor all the joy they bring -- friends, family, meals together, giving & gratitude. Of course, along with them are hearty dishes and sweets that can certainly wreak havoc on our bodies. Casseroles laden with cream, sugary cakes and cookies, and other tempting empty calorie bombs will adorn the dining tables we surround. Unless we do something about it, that is!
But how can you make healthy decisions during the season of eating, especially without anyone noticing? Well, I have a few of my favorite tricks to share with you that I use each season, and the best part is, nobody ever notices.
My favorite ways to sneak healthy goodies into my meals are...
Go for bone broth or herbal teas
When you roast or poach food, make soups or stews, or even for your gravy, use something that gives you a boost of health instead of canned sodium-riddled broth or plain water. Using bone broth will add more depth of flavor, and it will provide you with healthy immune boosting properties. You could also try herbal teas like ginger tea or green tea that will add a light flavor and add more antioxidants for better health.
Sprinkle in some turmeric
Turmeric is a naturally powerful anti-inflammatory that is filled with antioxidants. It is related to ginger and looks quite similar to a ginger root, and is most easily consumed in dried form. You can sneak it into dishes by sprinkling it in and enjoy the benefits it brings. Add just a little bit to your sweet potatoes, salad dressings, and dips. Go easy on it since the flavor can be strong to those that aren’t used to it.
Use sweet alternatives
Don't worry -- I'm not suggesting you do away with your dessert table altogether, but those unrefined sugars are what we are trying to avoid. If you swap out the unhealthy stuff for a natural sweetener that is a better option, you’ll still get the sweet tastes everyone loves without the slew of chemicals. Try raw organic honey. Local honey is best, which can typically be found at your local health food store. You can also look for coconut sugar or coconut syrup, or even use dates.
Freshen up flavors with fresh herbs
Fresh herbs add a new dimension of taste to your dishes without adding fat and calories. Plus, they naturally have their own benefits from adding more antioxidants to reducing inflammation. Experiment with your favorite ones to add more zing to your mashed potatoes or liven up your veggies.
The holidays don’t have to be so heavy on the unhealthy items, particularly when you use these simple tricks for making your favorite holiday dishes healthier. Happy Holidays!
Some of my favorite Holiday Treats w/ healthy ingredients
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup honey
1 medium ripe banana
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 cup almond meal
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup peanut butter chips (or butterscotch!)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Combine honey, peanut butter and banana in food processor and mix until smooth, scraping sides as needed.
Add almond meal and rolled oats and pulse until a loose, wet dough forms.
Remove from food processor into a mixing bowl. If it’s too wet to form cookie balls, add a bit more oats or almond meal until it’s not too sticky to form.
Add peanut butter and chocolate chips and move to freezer to chill for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 350*F.
Scoop out 1Tbsp of mixture and form cookie. Place evenly on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and slightly firm to touch.
Let set on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a plate or rack to cool.
Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups gluten free baking mix
1/3 cup milk
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add milk and mix, then slowly add baking mix, stirring throughout until a thick dough forms. Cover and freeze for at least 45 minutes (or refrigerate overnight).
Preheat oven to 375*F. Create dough balls from 1 Tbsp of dough and place on greased or lined cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Or, roll out dough and create cut outs.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are no longer wet (do NOT look for a golden color or they will be too dry).
Sugar Cookie Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (or Swerve Confectioner’s Sugar)
splash of milk
optional: food coloring
Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix again.
Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time while mixing until thick and creamy. Add a splash of milk to thin out, if necessary. Add food coloring, if desired.
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted but cooled slightly
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup jam (or just smashed raspberries)
Mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, egg and vanilla until fluffy. Add sugar until combined. Next add flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375*F. Create 24 dough balls and drop onto lined baking sheet with about 3/4” between them.
Using your thumb, press into the center of each ball to make a small well. Fill with jam.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before moving to cooling rack.
Quick and Easy Fudge
1 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 cup chocolate chips
Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Whisk together with a spatula until fully incorporated. Turn out in a lined pan and chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Cut and enjoy!
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