Yes, you should eat dessert!
During this holiday season, you should not feel guilty about enjoying your favorite holiday desserts. In moderation, of course. Eat mindfully. Savor each and every delicious bite.
You know our advice: Eat the real thing. Don’t try to create low-cal, low-sugar, low-fat treats. They are also low in flavor in low in satisfaction.
A rule of thumb: Eat a small portion of what you really want. And don’t forget to eat a little broccoli, too.
That being said, there are some ways to sneak some nutrition—and flavor!—into holiday baked goods and desserts.
· Use whole wheat pastry flour in baked goods for added fiber and intact nutrients. Pastry flour has a lower gluten content than all-purpose flour, so it will create tender cookies, quick breads, pancakes, and muffins. You can also use it to make pie dough, with great results!
· You can substitute up to ¼ cup of each cup of flour with an alternative flour, like almond meal, hazelnut flour, ground oats, or flaxseed. Experiment with different blends to create a flavor and texture you like.
First of all, please don’t cook or bake with artificial sweeteners. Our bodies and brains are too smart to be tricked. Research shows they are just not satisfying, and when we eat artificial sweeteners, we may end up eating more. Instead, chose natural sweeteners.
· Honey has a satisfying, floral flavor that adds moisture to baked goods. It contains antioxidants and micronutrients that are good for your health.
· Maple syrup is naturally made from sugar maple trees, and is useful for baking and flavoring in sauces.
· Blackstrap molasses is a rich, less-processed sweetener that contains many health-promoting nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
· Unrefined sugar, or succanat, is made from cane juice and resembles brown sugar. It is a healthier alternative to refined sweeteners.
· Brown sugar is another unrefined sugar that adds moisture and tenderness to baked goods. Light brown sugar and dark brown sugar can be used interchangeably in recipes.
· For pastry crusts, please don’t use hydrogenated vegetable oil. Use unsalted butter. Butter adds great flavor to your dough. The only trick is not to overwork your dough—that’s what creates a tough crust. If you’re vegan or avoiding dairy, you can use coconut oil.
· For baked goods calling for liquid oil, try melted butter, extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil. You can bake with olive oil with delicious results!
Try using dark chocolate in recipes. Dark chocolate—at least 70% cocoa content—contains antioxidants and polyphenols.
Winter fruits, including apples, pears, and citrus fruits, are perfect additions to many desserts. Try fruit crumbles, pies, compotes, or poached fruit. Leave the skin on for added fiber and antioxidants.
Here’s a recipe for your holiday table. It’s not low-cal or low-fat, but it is delicious, with fiber from the whole wheat flour, good fat from the pecans and polyphenols and antioxidants from the dark chocolate. Enjoy a small piece in the company of the people you love.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Serves 8 - 12
1 pie dough
3 large eggs
¼ cup water, or ¼ cup bourbon
1 ¾ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 cup dark chocolate chips, or chopped bittersweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together the eggs and water (or bourbon) until very well blended. Add the brown sugar and salt. Blend in the melted butter and vanilla extract.
Place the chocolate and pecans in the pie shell. Pour the custard filling over the pecans.
Place the pie in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake until the center of the pie is set, about 60 minutes. Let cool before slicing.
Makes enough dough for 2 pies
2 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 ¼ sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
½ cup ice water, plus more if needed
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse, until the flour resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add the water and pulse. Check the consistency of the dough by squeezing a small amount together between your fingers. You want the dough to hold together, without being either too wet or too crumbly. If it's still crumbly, add a little more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time.
When you get it to the right consistency, shape the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Put it in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough and shape in pie pan.