Mindful holiday eating
Pitted dates add a little sweetness to recipes without adding refined sugar.
“With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are going to be many temptations and parties that will derail many people’s normal healthy eating habits,” says Sharon Stroud, healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods Market.
Here are her tips for conquering the party foods while still having a good time.
1. Party food should not replace a healthy evening meal, so don’t go to parties hungry. Eat some whole foods — veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and whole grains — to help keep nibbling at a minimum.
“That way you can enjoy some treats, but you won’t overindulge,” she says.
2. Provide healthy options whenever you can. If you are part of a potluck committee, create a fruit tray or a veggie tray with hummus or another low-fat dip. Or, concoct a dessert with whole, unprocessed foods (see cookie recipe).
3. Although it’s good habit year-round, keep cleaned veggies and healthy dips on hand for snacks. You will be less likely to eat the high-calorie treats.
4. Remember your manners. When someone brings the cookie tray to work, repeat your mother’s famous words, “No, thank you.”
Recipes courtesy of Whole Foods Market
Nutty Red Pepper and Basil Dip
Makes 3 cups
- 1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted cashews or macadamia nuts
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 1/3 cups chopped roasted red bell pepper
In a medium bowl, cover cashews with cold water and soak for 4 hours. Drain and transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add more water if you prefer a thinner dip or if you would like to use it as a sauce.
No-Bake Thumbprint Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
- 3/4 cup pitted dates
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups smooth almond butter
- 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup all-fruit preserves such as cherry or apricot
In a medium bowl, cover dates with hot water and set aside to soak 10-15 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid and then drain dates well.
In a food processor, pulse oats until coarsely ground; transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Transfer dates and reserved 1/2 cup soaking liquid to food processor and purée until smooth. Add date mixture, almond butter, coconut, orange zest and juice, cinnamon and salt to bowl with oats, and knead together to make dough.
Roll dough into 24 balls and transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Make an indentation in the middle of each cookie by pressing down with your thumb. Spoon a bit of fruit preserves into each indentation and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.