Well, by now, many of you are well into your holiday baking – or at least, have a well-planned list. But maybe, like me, you haven’t even started…partly because you haven’t had time yet, and partly because you can’t get over the idea of how much SUGAR will be involved in all the festivities.
Being on a journey in the past 6 years to eliminate sugar and other highly processed sweeteners from my diet (including corn syrup, brown sugar, and even ‘natural’ turbinado sugars), the holidays are always a challenge. I am not a paragon of self control – I always have at least a bite of something, if not completely succumbing to the cravings and baking a whole batch of something myself. So, my efforts over the years have involved substituting, experimenting, some guilt from indulgence, and then those moments of glory – when my naturally sweetned creation comes close enough to tradition to satisfy.
The other night I tried Lindsay’s recipe for coconut fudge. It was delicious, rich, and chocolaty – without the graininess of regular fudge, because it was sweetened with honey rather than sugar. Yeah, fudge connessiuers would say it wasn’t REALLY fudge, but for me (who has never even made real fudge before) it was a pretty good substitute – totally satisfying my craving for something rich and, like I said, chocolaty.
Today she posted a recipe for peanut brittle – another holiday favorite. I’m gonna try the recipe as soon as I get my hands on some peanuts!
Lindsay also has a recipe for naturaly sweetened Egg Nog, which I plan to try as soon as the giant batch I made this week gets drunk up. (yeah, I wasn’t really paying attention and made the whole recipe as if we were having a party – made almost a gallon! good thing it’s the best eggnog I’ve ever had!!!)
So, you can be creative, make substitutions, and also, a few compromises. This recipe, Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, from Rachel, had me drooling, so I began to figure out a way I could make the cookie part as healthy as possible, so I wouldn’t feel so bad about the reese’s in the middle (for which there is no substitute!) So, I sprouted some pastry wheat to grind into bulgar flour, picked up my order of a 45Lb. bag of sucanut from my supplier, and bought resses cups yesterday. I will let you know how they turn out!
How about you? Do you have some favorite holiday recipes to share? Have you made alterations or substitutions to make them more nutritious? I would love to hear how you make the holidays tasty at your house!
Trina, always love to hear about more “healthy” sweets. Personally I like making fruit pies and tarts because it's so much easier to make them health conscious than say Devil's Food cake, but if you're wanting something traditional here's my mother-in-law's recipe for pecan pie. It beats every traditional pecan pie recipe cold without using corn syrup.
Debbie's Pecan Pie
Use a 9” pan and have crust ready.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1 stick butter
1 cup brown rice syrup
½ – 2/3 cup sucanat
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
In a saucepan, melt 1 stick butter, add 1 cup brown rice syrup and ½ to 2/3 cup sucanat.
Stir with a wire whip and leave on warm burner for sucanat to dissolve stir often.
In a bowl, put 4 eggs and beat well with a wire whip. Slowly pour the mixture from the saucepan into the eggs as you beat the eggs. Add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 ½ cups chopped pecans (I lightly toast the pecans before I put them in-300 degrees for 10 minutes).
Pour into pie crust. Place foil around the edges on the crust leaving the middle uncovered. (cut the middle out of a sheet of foil to make it easier)
Bake at 400 for 15 min, then turn the temperature down to 350 for 15-20 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t get too brown (time may vary), but the middle should puff up and be set, not too liquid. The middle will fall some as it is cooling.
Here's a link to her site: http://wswellnesscenter.com/2009/10/31/looking-for-sweet-alternatives/
If you have access to them, Namaste mixes are gluten/dairy/soy/refined sugar free and bake up wonderfully as well. I really like their brownie and spice cake mixes.
Agave Necter and Sucanat are common substitutions at our house. I try to make sure that the meals I eat at home are good, then enjoy a little of what is offered at gatherings. The hardest thing about this time of year is that I am allergic to cinnamon 🙁 All the really good Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts have cinnamon!
Good thing I really like nutmeg!
Lol! I'm just no help to you in this department because I decided long ago that I'm ok with sugar, regardless of how unhealthy it can be. It's just one less thing to try to control about my life, thereby one less thing for my brain to worry about.. which for this control freak is an accomplishment!
But I love to watch your substitutions and how they've turned out!
Ditto the above about eggnog! YUM! Lindsay's recipe is so easy, and it sounds delicious.
This was such an encouraging post, knowing that it's been six years that you've been working on eliminating refined sugars! I've only been working on it for the past few months, and while I have been doing fairly okay with it (WITH my unrefined substitutes), it's hard to convince the other adult in the household. 😉
I've made Lindsay's fudge and thought it was good, and then made the carob fudge recipe in Nourishing Traditions (which uses butter), except using cocoa powder, since I've never found carob powder. I must say, I prefer the butter version! And, while it does not come close to my grandpa's amazing fudge (no fudge does!), it's better than most fudge I've had.
Do you drink raw milk?
A gallon of eggnog wouldn't last long in our house – party or not!