The holiday season is officially in full swing, with Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas decorations taking over. Most people associate this time of year with festive lights, presents, and an abundance of good food. Holiday parties dominate December, and Christmas cookies are usually a must. So, with all these festivities and sweets around, how do you stay healthy? One solution is to cook your own tasty treats to share!
As a person who loves to indulge in a variety of foods, I strive to aim for healthier alternatives that won't break the scale if I overdo it during the holiday season. Let's dive into the lowdown on the best cooking and baking oils, sugars, and flours for your holiday treats.
Let's Talk Oils:
Did you know that certain oils can help fight inflammation? Olive oil, high in omega-3 fatty acids, is excellent for heart health and serves as an inflammation buster due to its antioxidant content. Olive oil, with its high smoke point, makes an ideal everyday cooking oil. Avocado oil, rich in nutrients, shares fatty acids with olive oil to combat inflammation. Walnut oil, often overlooked, is excellent for heart health and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. The same goes for pumpkin seed oil, loaded with fatty acids and antioxidants.
Ah, the carbs! The gut-ruining side effect of Christmas cookies often stems from sugars and flour, especially high in gluten—a major inflammatory trigger. When it comes to flour swaps, I...
Sweeten the Deal with Honey:
Honey is another alternative to sweeten your holiday treats. Unlike sugar, honey retains its nutrients during the manufacturing process, offering various health benefits. From increasing calcium absorption to providing instant energy without the insulin surge and crash associated with white sugar, raw honey is a versatile and healthier sweetener.
Maple Syrup Magic:
Another healthy sweetener to try instead of sugar is maple syrup. A recent study published in the journal Oncology Reports reveals that maple syrup inhibits the growth and invasion of human colorectal cancer cells. This underscores that not all sugar is created equal, and maple syrup should be considered a whole food.
Lastly, consider using monkfruit sweetener as a sugar substitute. This zero-calorie, natural plant-based option is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Some research suggests antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties. For those looking to cut back on caloric intake for weight loss, monkfruit is an excellent alternative.
In summary, these healthy substitutes may seem foreign, but they are readily available in health grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Sprouts, and even Harris Teeter, which now offers a variety of healthy flours. Alternatively, you can find these products on Amazon for easy access. Making a small change to your recipes can go a long way for your gut and overall health. Keep yourself, your family, and friends a bit healthier this holiday season by incorporating a few of these healthier swaps into your tasty treats!
Speaking of taking care of yourself,...at IVY Integrative, you can work with one practitioner or build your own team of holistic practitioners! Reach your optimum health in-person or online. Check out our Get Started page to learn how to work with us!
Author: Dr. Sarah Kingsley PT, DPT, RYT
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.