The winter holidays are typically a time for many in the Western world where food and drink is abundant and everything seems to revolve around them. These are the times we tend most to not only over eat, but eat many things that are far from optimally healthy for us.
Many of us also cause ourselves a great deal of stress by worrying and fretting over what dish we are going to serve, what kinds of drinks, desserts, etc. However, things can be so much simpler on our time, and our health. Our obsession with food during the holidays, leaves many with various types of ailments in the new year, not to mention fighting with some unwanted extra pounds.
So what is one to do?
Well, if you want to celebrate the holidays with some extra special meals, especially in the dessert department, there are some desserts that can actually be considered “healthy”. Yes, I said it – desserts can be healthy!
Thus today, I want to share you some ideas of how you can have your cake and eat it too during the holiday season.
Hungry For Health
Susan Silberstein, PhD, is both the Executive Director of the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education and author of the book Hungry for Health.
In a 2009 press release about the holidays and food, Susan stated:
“Food is everywhere, and we all tend to eat too much during the holidays. Desserts are probably the hardest to resist, and are a big source of Christmas weight gain. Careful attention to the holiday dessert-binging tendency can actually help lower our risk for cancer, because obesity and sugar intake are both tightly linked to the disease. Obesity is only one problem caused by holiday over-indulgence. A second specific concern is ingestion of sweets, which can suppress immune function and actually feed cancer.”
According to a report released by the American Institute for Cancer Research, more than 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess body fat. Obesity is a known cause of cancers of the endometrium, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, breast, and colon. Obesity also negatively affects survival and can make treatment more difficult. Source: CNN Medical News Nov. 5, 2009
So what can each of us do to nourish and take care of our our body and health properly, while still enjoying some holiday festivities?
If we can look at the food we are about to prepare in a new light, there are ways to make the holidays both festively sweet and healthy at the same time. It just requires an open mind to consider new ingredients and ways of preparing food.
Here are some simple, guilt-free, healthful dessert recipes excerpted from Susan Silberstein’s book Hungry for Health. You can visit her site foundation site for more information about her work: www.BeatCancer.org
1/4 cup flaxseeds, ground
1/4 cup unsweetened carob powder, sifted
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/3 cup raw almond butter
1/3 cup raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
small bowl of unsweetened shredded coconut
Process all ingredients until mixture forms a dense ball. Remove from processor and roll small portions between palms of hands to form one inch balls. Roll in coconut to coat. Place on serving platter and refrigerate.
Yield: About 18 truffles
18 Deglet Noor dates, pitted
1 cup raw almond butter
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
18 pecan halves (optional)
Fill dates generously with nut butter. Roll top of date in coconut. Press a pecan half into top of each date, if desired.
Yield: 18 pieces
1 1/2 cup raw almonds
1 1/2 cup raw cashews
1 TBSP flaxseeds, finely ground
1/4 cup sesame tahini
3/4 cup honey
1 TBSP vanilla extract
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
Place almonds and cashews in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add flax, honey, tahini, vanilla, coconut and salt and pulse a few times more. Press firmly into 9 by 5 by 1 inch brownie pan and refrigerate several hours. Cut into small squares and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Remove just before serving.
Yield: About 24 pieces
For more information about Hungry for Health, or about the scientific data linking diet to cancer prevention and control, contact the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education at 888-551-2223, or visit www.BeatCancer.org
One of the most extravagant looking and decadent tasting healthy desserts you can try this holiday season, are the “raw cheesecakes”. In fact, I would love to call them anything but that, as they have nothing to do with cheese.
Raw cheesecakes are based on nuts, dates and some coconut oil. Yes, they are rich in calories, but all of the ingredients in these desserts actually offer you valuable nutrients and have various health benefits. So as long as you stick to one piece, you can enjoy delicious and rich desserts this holiday season, that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating.
The picture above is a variation of the traditional recipe, which you can find here – Raw Key Lime Cheesecake.
The variation had about half the cashews as the original, and about a cup of fresh blueberries added, with no lime juice added. The best part is, the consistency in the food processor will generally indicate if you need to add any less or more of an ingredient, hence these are really easy to make “cheesecakes” that are almost full-proof!
Raw Dessert Ideas
You may be wondering at this time, why such an emphasis on raw desserts?
Well, if we are looking for something as healthy as possible, there is nothing healthy, no matter what you put into it, in a dessert that has been baked at high temperatures. Any digestive enzymes this food has are now destroyed, not to mention most vitamins and other nutrients too. This puts a greater toll on your body to now break down this substance, only to not have much to use from it, aside from energy calories.
So this holiday season, you don’t have to be a raw foodist to enjoy delicious raw desserts. Just pick wholesome, natural, organic ingredients and keep them in their most natural form. It is actually easier for you, and saves you time and money too!
For more delicious raw desserts check out Earth Mother’s site – In the Raw for some amazing raw dessert recipes including:
Holiday Sugar Plums and Thumbprint Cookies
Hope you enjoy these simple, delicious and healthy dessert ideas this holiday season, or any time of the year.
However, as always remember that even good things can be made bad, if we overdo something or overindulge. Overeating of anything puts a huge strain on our bodies and will make you feel sluggish. So enjoy the holidays, enjoy the friends and family you will be spending time with – but don’t make it all about the food. Your body will thank you greatly for it!