The holiday season is here. It's a time for celebrating and spending quality time with friends and family. These festive gatherings almost always include holiday dinners and not-so-healthy treats.
Where treats or desserts are concerned, why not opt for healthier ingredient choices without sacrificing flavour? Whether you are following a special diet due to health concerns or food sensitivities or trying to maintain your weight over the holiday season, making simple ingredient substitutions is the answer.
**Learn to make 4 of Shawna's favourite Holiday Desserts on Dec. 5th!**
For those who want to be adventurous this holiday, whipping up raw desserts is an ideal way to incorporate a ton of healthy ingredients. However, you can always add a healthy boost to your traditional recipes by replacing one or two of the ingredients. Either way, with a little thought you can bring desserts to the table that will A) help promote healthy blood sugar levels and B) be more suitable for guests that have special diets.
Here are some helpful tips for adapting your favourite holiday desserts:
Healthier Sweeteners: instead of sugar (especially highly refined white sugar) try dates, unpasteurized honey, maple syrup (darker varieties have more minerals), coconut sugar or nectar, or green stevia powder.
Gluten- or Flour-Free Ingredients: try nuts or seeds, nut flours or shredded coconut. A simple no-bake pie crust would include walnuts and dates and then be flavored with cacao, vanilla powder or cinnamon.
Creams, Custards and Icings: try coconut butter, soaked cashews or macadamias, coconut meat (fresh or frozen), coconut oil (an excellent substitution for butter) or cacao butter.
Register now for Healthy Raw Holiday Desserts!
Feeling Confused at the Grocery Store?
Follow these simple tips and take the mystery out of choosing healthy groceries.
Improving your health, and the health of your family, begins with the choices you make at the grocery store; however, clever marketing and labels making misleading health claims can make this task more difficult than it should be. (See FoodPolitics.com/tag/labels for more information about industry dominated labelling laws).
Ideally we should only be buying fruits, vegetables, and bulk items like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes; but for those times when we do buy packaged products it is helpful to know how to make healthier choices.
Food packages contain confusing and misleading information, here are my
Top 5 Tips for How to Read Food Labels:
I don't eat sweets and cut out refined carbohydrates many years ago. I brush and floss regularly and still continue to get many cavities. Do you have any recommendations for cavity prevention?
We are often led to believe dental decay and cavities are due to consuming too much sugar, which end up feeding the bacteria in our mouth leading to cavities. While this definitely plays a large role, how well your teeth are able to deal with the bacteria has a lot to do with how strong your teeth are.
When the tooth is strong because the body has ample minerals, it is much more resilient to damage from sugar-eating bacteria. (However, I am not suggesting you can stop brushing and flossing!)
The key to cavity prevention is increasing mineral consumption and absorption. This is also essential for bone density, and healthy hair and nails.
Here are my Top 6 Recommendations for improving mineral status:
1. Increase intake of fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens.
2. Soak, sprout, or ferment all grains, beans, nuts, and seeds to reduce the phytic acid levels (hemp seeds and macadamia nuts are the exception).
3. Avoid/decrease mineral absorption blockers: caffeine, tannins, phosphoric acid (from pop), and too much salt; and increase mineral absorption enhancers like garlic and onions.
4. Take a whole-food bone building supplement or liquid trace mineral supplement.
5. Increase stomach acid secretion by taking 1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in half a cup of room temperature water 15-20mins before each meal.
6.. Eat more alkaline foods, mineral rich seaweeds, organic produce grown in mineral rich soil, as well as foods rich in the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
*Please note: I did not mention oxalic acid as a mineral blocker because of research one of my professors at UBC was conducting. He found that although oxalic acid can block mineral absorption higher up in the intestines, it may enhance absorption lower down in the intestines due to substances the good bacteria release after they eat the oxalic acid. So maybe taking a good probiotic and eating fermented foods will help increase mineral absorption if oxalic acid is present.
The traditional flavours of apple and cinnamon make this a delicious and comforting treat. A vegan, raw, and gluten-free option; this nutritious filling can be used as a pudding, dip, or pie filling.
Food as medicine: apples are rich in quercetin, a natural anti-histamine; and cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar.
1 3/4 cup walnuts (preferably soaked and then dehydrated)
½ cup dates
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
Mix in food processor until starts to stick together. Press into pie pan.
1 ripe banana
3/4 cup raisins, soaked
1 Tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
½ Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp psyllium powder or ground chia
Puree all ingredients in food processor. Pour into pie crust and set in refrigerator for at least 1hr.
1-2 thinly sliced apples, arranged on top
1 tsp cinnamon, sprinkled on top
2 tsp coconut sugar, sprinkled on top
Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist, college instructor, and raw food educator.