October is a trick-or-treat month where children and adults alike will be indulging in many “treats”. Could that be a reason most people feel down at this time of year? Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations are coming with their “goodies” as well. The holidays should be a time to enjoy, feel gratitude and appreciation. We should not feel guilt, remorse or be depressed. Bad feelings that emerge from consuming sugar-laden goodies can be prevented by making simple and smart choices. You can still eat healthy and sweet goodies that are simple to prepare.
Sugar is going to be the number one ingredient in many treats and holiday recipes. Unfortunately in most cases it is going to be the white variety, which is refined and striped of nutrients. Did you know that when you eat sugar your body has to use a lot of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and enzymes in order to process it? It is a fact that your body uses 56 molecules of magnesium to metabolize only one molecule of sugar! Consuming sugar not only affects your weight, adrenals, dental health, and mood but causes magnesium deficiency as well, which in retrospect affects your immune system and overall health. Do you see where this is going? When your immune system is impaired then you are more likely to get sick, which does happen around the holidays. Sugar puts a lot of stress on your body. Holidays can be stressful and you do not want to put more “wood into the fire.” Are the holidays really stressful or are we making them stressful for ourselves by eating too much sugar?
Traditionally, for thousands of years, people used sweets. Maple syrup and maple sugar were used by Native Americans. In the tropics people dehydrated cane sugar juice. Raw honey was used sparingly and only for very special occasions such as rituals because it was very rare and expensive. As you can see people in the past have enjoyed sweets from time to time. These sweets were very different from modern refined sweets that are consumed today. Traditional sweets were rich in nutrients such as enzymes, vitamins and minerals because they were unrefined and kept in their natural form.
It is estimated that an average Western person consumes between 160-200 pounds of sugar a year! (It is not so surprising considering that soda itself can have 5 – 10 teaspoons of sugar per can. Did you look at how much sugar the low- and no-fat yogurt varieties have for instance?) Whereas in 1821, sugar consumption was only 10 pounds a year per person! From the evolutionary point of view our bodies are not designed to deal with so much sugar intake. People are literally inundating their bodies with sugar and refined carbohydrates. In the scheme of things it is not such a long period of time and look what we have been doing to our bodies and health! We can nourish ourselves with good quality sweets, but in moderation of course. If you restrict yourself from eating sweets, I guarantee you, that you will develop cravings and … well you know what happens then …
10 Tips to help you avoid the Holiday sugar roller-coaster:
- Reduce sugar in recipes!
- Substitute white sugar with good quality raw honey (do not cook or bake with raw honey though), Rapadura or Sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice), maple syrup/sugar, coconut sugar (made from coconut blossoms), molasses (unsulphured, blackstrap), stevia (good for teas).
- Include cinnamon – makes food sweeter.
- Avoid agave nectar – it is actually worse for you than HFCS (still avoid HFCS – it is more than likely GMO and highly processed). High fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose, whereas agave nectar is actually 70-97% pure fructose. It is highly processed and if you do consume it, your blood sugar and weight gain will sky rocket.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet), it is toxic and causes weight gain!).
- Avoid Sucralose (Splenda), xylitol – cause digestive issues and impair your immune system.
- Avoid Saccharine – research shows that it causes cancer in laboratory animals.
- Avoid soft drinks and fruit juices (besides containing lots of sugar, they are also dehydrating).
- Instead of using refined white flour stripped from all the nutrients, use good almond flour (blanched) or coconut flours. They are gentle on your digestive system and gluten-free.
- Use good quality fats such as butter, lard, coconut oil/butter – good fats slow down the absorption of foods, keep the blood sugar leveled, and make you feel satiated for a very long period of time.
Nourishing and versatile sweet recipe
- any local apples (pesticide and preservative free), you can also use pears, peaches, apricots, etc. whatever is local and in season – washed and cut into cubes (compost the middle part of the apples or other fruits)
- cinnamon powder (I sometimes like to use allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, or cloves)
- butter (grass-fed is the best, avoid margarine and fake “butters”), or use unrefined virgin coconut oil
- cooled off caffeine-free tea such as Rooibos (red bush – it enhances the flavor of the fruit)
- lemon juice or lime juice (lime juice makes it little sour if you prefer that flavor)
- vanilla extract (home-made or good quality without any preservatives or colors)
- raw honey – topping on finished baked apples (do not cook or bake with it)
- crème fraiche – topping on finished baked apples
- whole-milk plain yoghurt
- heavy cream – make home-made whipped cream (yum!)
- raw coconut flakes or shredded coconut (avoid the sweetened one)
- arrowroot powder – sprinkle before putting it in the oven
- nuts – soaked, sprouted (properly prepared) – topping on finished baked apples
- raisins, chopped dates (make sure you do not use too much as dried fruit is high in sugar)
Oven temperature: 350 Fahrenheit
Time: 25-30 minutes, till fruit is nicely soft
baking dish or little soufle dishes
Put some grass-fed butter or unrefined virgin coconut oil on the bottom of a baking dish making sure that the bottom is covered with the fat. Place the cut fruit into the baking dish, sprinkle with lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Add Rooibos tea depending on the size of the recipe. You want to make sure that the bottom of the pan is covered with the tea. Put it in the oven. You do not have to cover the pan with a lid. When fruit is soft, take the pan out of the oven, let it cool off for a few minutes, then put additional toppings on and indulge!
This recipe is great because you can make a big portion of it in a big baking dish or you can prepare individualized dishes (soufle dishes work great) depending on the wishes and needs of your family or guests. I did not use any measurements as this is very simple recipe and it really depends on how much you are going to make. Let your creative side take over for this recipe. ;o) It is delicious, nutritious and your blood sugar will be nicely balanced, so will your mood, teeth and weight. ;o)))) Enjoy!
Anna Simpson is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. She is the owner of a nutritional consulting business, Well Beyond Nutrition – Nutritional Therapy with Healing Foods. Anna is a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
Anna offers Nutritional Counseling with a focus on Foundations (Digestion, Blood Sugar, Fatty Acids, Minerals, Hydration) and a Properly-Prepared, Nutrient-Dense Real Foods Diet. Services range from package deals to individualized sessions based on your needs. Contact Anna for a free consultation to see how she can help you!
I, Anna Simpson, am not a licensed or certified doctor/medical professional. I do not diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure any disease, physical or mental. My services are not intended as a substitute for regular medical care performed by a licensed or certified doctor. The information or advice provided here is for educational purposes only. I educate and inform about holistic nutrition and health. Should you choose to use any advice discussed here, you are taking responsibility for your own actions.