• Sally Miller, N. E.

Dancing around the sugarplum fairy

Charleston Gazette-Mail | WV Culinary Team: Healthier holiday recipes for the diet-restricted

An article for the Sunday before Christmas could have had many themes. Given the nature of the season and all of the sugarplums dancing in our heads, I could have chosen to write about which sugars are toxic, what sugar does to your body when you overeat, how to detox your body after the holidays (January’s article) or tips to avoid gaining weight during the holidays.

These topics can go on and on because we all tend to expand our comfort zone during this time of year and indulge in many foods we don't ordinarily find in our kitchen or in our stomachs.

Instead, I have chosen to write about what brings us joy during this special time of year, while still being a wise consumer.

In our family, joy comes from food, music, decorations and well-read stories that bring back memories of times spent together with both good friends and family. We celebrate the end of the end of darkness as we welcome the light that comes into the world through the birth of God’s son, Jesus Christ.

Our celebrations have always been centered around this miracle and the hope for the world in the new year. Gift giving provides us with an opportunity to share our love with people who are special to us or those who are less fortunate. Emotions of joy and sadness are very powerful this time of year. It is important to recognize what helps bring joy into your life and the lives of others and approach the season with a giving heart and mind

Food can play a large part in your emotional swings. An overabundance of any particular food, especially sugar and caffeine can be harmful at any time, not just at the holidays. Be aware and have some options available. This will help you participate and help you find enjoyment in your choices. If something doesn’t bring a must-have smile to your face, leave it on the sidelines. Share your intentions (take control) with loved ones and offer your new traditional food to share. Abandon the negative voices in your head, give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays and get back on track with your normal eating routine the next day.

As Dr. A.K. Misra, medical director for U.S. HealthWorks, said, “The truth is that if you have sound dietary habits and eat healthy most of the time, there is room to wobble.”

I am sharing some recipes today that have traditional ingredients with a twist to make them healthier and still delectable — choose all organic, non-GMO ingredients where possible. Alternative sugar, dairy, eggs and flour have been used in these recipes where needed. Most of them are egg and flour free, some use healthier options for sweetening, other than processed white sugar. I have included a recipe for a savory nut mix, which will help balance the blood sugar if eaten with some of the sweeter options. The Cranberry Tea Bread recipe is an old favorite of our family. The alternative version is delicious as well and could become a favorite for all members of your family who have special dietary requirements. -

Many people feel the need to avoid bread and sweets during the holidays if they are experiencing health problems. These recipes will help you prepare some treats for those who must be careful with dietary choices; especially Carrot Cake Balls and Thumbprint Cookies. They will love them and you for considering their dietary needs. Create your own substitutes that work for you and your family, and enjoy the choices offered as a gift of joy.

Merry Christmas to all.

Sally Miller is the owner and operator of Eats of Eden, a Charleston-based nutrition education business that offers an alternative choice for healing the body through nutrition. She attended Carnegie Mellon University for her undergraduate education and in 2009 graduated from Bauman Holistic Nutrition College, specializing in holistic nutrition education. She has recently become certified as a Gluten Free Practitioner. For more information on classes and consultations, visit her website at www.eatsofeden.com

Find additional information and recipes here.

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