Guilt-Free (or Low-Guilt) Holiday Treats
The holidays are here, so parties, gatherings, and family traditions of all food-related types will parade around you with delicious aromas, annual meals, and family pressure to eat more. So, how do you continue the moderation of consuming sugary, rich, or full-fat foods without making the unhealthy choice to over-indulge because it is the holidays?
Talk to Your Inner-Circle
Talk to your inner circle (children and/or partner) about what appropriate portion sizes are for treats and other tasty foods. Being conscious about what you and your family eat will help set you, and them, up for success.
Practice a Good Food Rhythm
Consume sugary foods in combination with protein. Practicing eating this way will help slow the sugar uptake into your bloodstream and help you avoid sugar spikes. Also, don’t avoid food because it’s “bad” for you. Avoiding food or setting taboos on something that you love or crave around the holiday season will only add unneeded stress. Know that you will eat the foods that you may not always eat, and eat them in moderation.
Take Healthy or Guilt-Free Treats with You
We all bring food for parties, and it’s the polite thing to do. However, try some of the recipes below to help you eat healthier or have a lower-guilt kind of treat to eat even when everyone else brings in the heavier, unhealthier hitters.
- Chocolate Toffee Grahams, makes about four dozen cookies: 1 14-ounce box low-fat graham crackers; 4 tbsp reduced-fat margarine; 1 cup dark brown sugar; 1 cup chopped pecans; 1 cup bittersweet morsels.
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Coat baking trays (you may need two) with non-stick spray. Add graham crackers to the tray in a single layer, and set aside. Next, you’ll combine the brown sugar and margarine in a pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for two to three more minutes. Once the margarine/brown sugar mixture thickens, drizzle over the graham crackers. Press nuts to the top of the graham crackers, and bake until you begin to smell the sugar. This should take about five to seven minutes.
Next, take the bittersweet morsels, and place them in a plastic Ziploc bag. Fill a large bowl with warm water, and put the bag of chips into the water for about two to three minutes. This will melt the chips. After the morsels are melted, drizzle the chocolate over the graham crackers.
Let the cookies cool on the trays before cutting or breaking them into triangles. You can store these healthier treats in an airtight container for up to one week.
- Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies, makes about 15 cookies: 1 cup instant oats; 3/4 cup whole wheat or gluten-free flour; 1 and 1/2 tsp of baking powder; 1/4 tsp salt; 1 large egg white, room temperature; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1/4 cup natural peanut butter; 1/2 cup honey; 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips; 1 and 1/2 tbsp miniature chocolate chips.
Instructions: Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Mix together oats, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla. Take the peanut butter, and add it to the egg white and vanilla mixture. Stir in the honey. Once smooth, add in the flour mixture until moist. Then, stir in dark chocolate chips and 1 tbsp of the mini chocolate chips.
Once mixed, use a spoon to drop 15 scoops onto the sheet. Flatten scoops to the desired thickness. Add the rest of the chocolate chips to the tops of all the scoops.
Bake at 325° F for 11–14 minutes. Let cool before moving cookies to a wire rack.
A few notes: measure oats and flour correctly. Too much of either will dry out the cookies instead of giving them the chewy texture.
- Grain-Free, Vegan-Friendly Chocolate Chip Bites that are low calorie and low sugar, makes about one and a half dozen: 1 15 oz. can of drained chickpeas; 1 flax egg ( or one egg, if not vegan); 2 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract; 1/2 tsp olive oil; 1/8–1/3 cup brown sugar unpacked; 1/2 tsp of baking powder; 1/2 tsp of baking soda; 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk; 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips.
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350° F. Drain and rinse chickpeas. In a food processor, place washed chickpeas, egg, vanilla extract, grape seed oil, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and almond milk. Blend until smooth. Take three tbsp of mini chocolate chips, and fold into batter.
Pour batter in mini-muffin greased pan or with cupcake liners. Bake for 10–15 minutes. Use the remaining mini chocolate chips to drizzle on the muffins once they cool. To do this, add mini chips to microwave and heat until melted.
- Grain-Free Spiced Molasses Cookies—Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free, makes about 18–24 cookies: 2 1/2 cups of blanched almond flour; 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed; 1 tsp of baking soda; 1/4 tsp of unrefined sea salt; 1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger; 1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon pinch; 2 eggs room temperature; 2 tbsp of melted coconut oil; 1/3 cup of honey; 3 tbsp of organic molasses.
For the topping: 2 tsp raw organic sugar cane (optional).
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together almond flour, ground flaxseed, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and molasses.
Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix until well combined. Use 1 tbsp of the dough for each cookie, and form it into a ball. Place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Gently press them down into disks and sprinkle with a little raw sugar (optional).
Bake for about 10–12 minutes until the top begins to slightly crack and lightly brown. Cool on the baking sheet for about five minutes.
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies, makes about 12 cookies: 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour; 1/3 cups of cocoa powder; 1/2 tsp of baking powder; 1/2 tsp of cornstarch; 1/8 tsp of salt; 2 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted; 1 large egg, room temperature; 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract; 1/2 cups of light-brown sugar; 2 tbsp of mini chocolate chips; 2 tbsp of marshmallows.
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and peppermint extract. Add in the brown sugar and the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold in the mini chocolate chips and half of the mallow bits.
Use a spoon to drop the cookie dough into 12 rounded scoops on the prepared baking sheet, and flatten slightly. Bake at 350° F for nine to eleven minutes. Let cookies cool before removing them from the sheet.
If you are looking for help on your personal health journey after the holidays, reach out to the Bee Healthy Clinics – we’re standing by to help you.