It’s that time of year…time for family, friends and GREAT FOOD! Unfortunately, over-consumption of sugar during the holiday season can tax our digestive systems. Not only does sugar impact the natural flora of the gut, too much sugar raises the body’s insulin level. As well, during the refining process most minerals and vitamins are removed, which means that the body must draw upon its own micro-nutrient stores to metabolize refined sugar. Hence, a diet high in refined sugar depletes nutrients from the body.
So how do we avoid refined sugar? Simply be mindful of your choices and monitor how often you eat foods that are high in sugar! During the holiday season there are many tempting, scrumptious sweet treats – enjoy them in moderation and pick your indulgences. Are you going to choose a processed sugar laden doughnut that you pick up on the run, a decadent sweet treat while dining out, or your favourite Aunt’s Christmas cookies? You may well agree the later is far more satisfying and enjoyable. When there is an abundance of sweet options around you during the holidays, decide how much and how often you ingest sugar.
If you are a holiday baker, natural sugars are perfect alternatives to refined white sugar. Maple Syrup is a great alternative, and Canadians are lucky enough to live in the country that produces the best in the world. Swapping out processed flour for more nutrient rich options such as nut flours or shredded coconut boosts the overall protein and good fat content of a recipe, creating a more balanced and nourishing recipe.
Try these Nourished Self’s maple syrup and coconut inspired holiday baking recipes. They are all:
Refined Sugar free
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup of ground Almonds
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom (or any spice of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, and stir in melted coconut oil and maple syrup.
Place small balls of mixture onto a well greased cookie sheet.
Bake in the oven (place on middle grill) at 325F for about 10 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before removing from cookie sheet.
Australian Coconut Slice
1 can coconut milk
2/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 cups desiccated coconut
8 drops of natural red food colouring
Grease and line a 20 cm square tin with parchment paper.
Place coconut milk, coconut oil and maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted and well combined. Remove from heat and stir through desiccated coconut.
Separate mixture in halves and place in separate bowls. Add natural red food colouring to one bowl (8 drops will create a nice pink tone, add more for a darker colour).
Press the white mixture into the base of prepared tin. Place in freezer to help the base to firm a little.
Press the pink mixture into tin and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
Remove from tin and trim edges. Cut into 16 large squares or smaller bite size portions for entertaining.
Choc-o-Coco Peppermint Slice
1 cup natural almonds (unsalted and unroasted)
1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. of peppermint essence (or to taste)
Grease and line a 9 x 11 inch cake tin with parchment paper.
Process nuts in a food processor until very finely chopped (almost ground). Set aside.
Combine chocolate, almond butter, olive oil and honey over low heat in a medium saucepan 2 to 3 minutes or until it has a smooth consistency and chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and nuts, and add peppermint essence.
Press mixture into the 9 x 11 inch pan. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until firm. Remove from the tin and slice into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.