4 Easy Tips To Make Holiday Treats More Nutrient-Dense

Most of us look forward to the sweets and treats of the holidays... but we don't look forward to the weight gain or sugar overload. Here are 4 easy ways to make holiday treats more nutrient-dense -- so you're not just eating empty calories, unhealthy fats, or refined, processed ingredients! When the holidays arrive, it's natural to eat delicious treats and goodies. Most of us look forward to these all year long! It's a time for sharing and enjoying food with friends and family, but too much of a good (or should I say, "sweet") thing can damage our health, leaving us feeling less than our best. We can remedy this by limiting our indulgence of holiday treats. Or... we can just make our treats a little healthier.

Think More Nutrient-Dense Not Less Fat Or Calories

Making holiday treats healthier is not about lowering calories or reducing the possibility of gaining weight (although the holidays is the time of year many Americans add a few pounds). "Healthier" also doesn't mean less "fattening" or better for our waistlines. When we say we're making healthier treats, we mean that we're adding nutrient-density to foods we're already planning to eat. Most holiday treats are made from conventional ingredients like white flour, refined sugar, and vegetable oil. They're not adding anything to our overall health. Rather, they're detracting from it. You may have heard the quote from Heather Morgan: "Every time you eat or drink you are either feeding disease or fighting it." Pretty powerful, right? Furthermore, the holidays stretch on for months in the United States, beginning with the candy overload at Halloween and continuing through the candy overload of Valentine's Day and Easter. As soon as one holiday ends, it's time to start thinking about (and eating through) the next one! Therefore, it's not overkill to think about making your holiday treats healthier -- no matter what holiday you're celebrating! It's worth making a few tweaks to be sure the treats we consume are contributing to our overall wellness. Are you ready to make holiday treats healthier? Here are four easy ways to do it:

#1 -- Replace White Sugar

...With a more nutrient-dense sweetener. White sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever. On the other hand, coconut sugar and coconut syrup contain many vitamins and minerals. Yes, these are still sweeteners, but at least they have some nutritional value. Both coconut sugar and syrup are real, whole foods. They are also lower on the glycemic index (GI) than white sugar, meaning they are digested and metabolized more slowly, resulting in less strain on blood sugar levels. For example, coconut sugar and syrup both have a GI value of 35. In contrast, refined white sugar has a GI value of 80 (source). Using these instead of white sugar gives a richer flavor to baked goods and ensures you are getting some extra nutrition as well. Wildly Organic's Coconut Sugar and Coconut Syrup are high-quality and delicious. Here are 7 sweeteners that are healthier than refined sugar.

#2 -- Use Soaked & Dehydrated Nuts

Many holiday treats contain nuts, which are already nutritional powerhouses -- when they're prepared properly. So, you can increase the nutrient-density of your nutty holiday treats simply by swapping store-bought nuts with soaked and dehydrated nuts -- like those found in these yummy recipes: Soaked and dried nuts are easier to digest -- giving you more bang for your buck because the process allows you to actually absorb and digest more of their awesome nutrition. You can soak and dehydrate them yourself! Or, save yourself the trouble (especially during the busy holiday season) and stock up on nuts that have already been soaked and dehydrated! (When I first saw these I wanted to cry with joy! It saves so much time and means I can make delicious treats without having to pre-plan). Wildly Organic carries a variety of soaked and dehydrated nuts. Check out our selection!

#3 -- Toss The Vegetable Shortening

With nothing to boast but hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and coming from genetically modified plants, vegetable shortening isn't conducive to a nutrient-dense lifestyle -- holidays or not. On the other hand, Coconut oil boasts many health benefits! Coconut oil's solid nature makes it a great substitute for vegetable shortening. Use it in place of shortening in cookies and other baked goods in a 1:1 ratio. Be sure the coconut oil is solid before use. If it has melted, put it in the fridge until it becomes firm. The 1:1 ratio for shortening and coconut oil works well in almost every case, but adjust it slightly when making cookies. When making cookies with coconut oil reduce the amount by around 25%. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of shortening, use 3/4 cup coconut oil instead. Since coconut oil has a lower melting point than shortening, it may cause cookies to spread. Using less helps prevent this from happening. If you prefer no coconut flavor in your baking, use Wildly Organic's Refined Coconut Oil. It is mechanically pressed without the use of solvents or chemicals. It's also super clean and our most budget-friendly oil. Try these delicious goodies with coconut oil this holiday season: Coconut oil has many wonderful uses, so be sure to keep some on hand for cooking and household projects.

#4 -- Swap Cocoa Powder With Raw Cacao Powder

Switch regular cocoa powder with cacao powder or fermented cacao powder and instantly increase the amount of antioxidants and enzymes in baked goods. Cacao powder is produced via a cold processing method, while cocoa powder is roasted at high temperatures. This roasting process destroys some of the value enzymes and lowers the overall nutritional value of the product. Fermented Cacao powder and non-fermented cacao powder are both superior to cocoa powder. So, feel free to choose either one. Fermented cacao powder has a stronger flavor than non-fermented cacao powder, so use what works best for your favorite recipes. Find out more about the difference between fermented and non-fermented cacao powder in this article: What's the Difference Between Fermented and Non-Fermented Cacao Powder. These recipes are made with cacao powder -- not cocoa powder -- if you want to give them a try: These four suggestions are not overly difficult to implement and will enhance your holiday treats with many nutritional benefits. It's worth making these simple changes so your food can improve your health rather than take away from it.

What are your tips to make holiday treats more nutrient-dense? We'd love to hear them!

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