Christmas in July: Three Healthy Takes on Festive Treats

The limitations on our dining out options has, inevitably, led to a rise in at-home entertaining, and Christmas in July is the perfect excuse. But while overloading on Yule Logs and mulled wine is tempting at the time, the sugar hangover can sometimes make us feel like the indulgence wasn’t worth it.

  1. Grain-free vegan gingerbreads
    We’re not here to demonise gluten or grains, because although minimising our intake of gluten can have positive effects on our blood-sugar, energy levels and digestive health [1], eliminating it entirely is unwise unless you have a genuine gluten intolerance [2].  Having said that, Christmas feasts can often be gluten-heavy, so if there are tasty and healthy alternatives, it can be a good idea to adopt them in the name of balance. This recipe from Minimalist Baker is vegan as well as gluten free, and the fact that prep can be done in 45 minutes (and uses just one bowl) leaves lots of time and space for decorating. If you have a traditional gingerbread recipe you’re not willing to part with, it can be given a healthy twist by switching the butter to a plant-based alternative, replacing eggs with chickpea aquafaba, using chickpea flour instead of grain-based flour and adding a few spoonfuls of applesauce for an extra chewy texture.
  2. Raw chocolate truffles
    Making your own chocolate was once an endeavour reserved only for master chocolatiers, but the rise of the raw food movement is helping us to rewrite that narrative. With the help of a powerful food processor, deliciously decadent raw chocolate truffles can be made using as few as two ingredients. Start with dates and cacao powder as your base, blend, enhance and decorate as you wish. This recipe from The Loopy Whisk provides a good breakdown of how to launch your raw truffle making career, but the ease of the technique means there’s no harm in experimenting. We like to add a teaspoon of maca powder for its caramel taste and mood-boosting benefits, or a splash of brandy for an extra-festive feel.
  3. Paleo pecan pie
    Sweet pecan pie is an impossibly tempting christmas treat, but if you’re trying to limit your refined-sugar intake, it’s probably wise to stick to just one slice. For those of us who are keen to get stuck in, there are some simple swaps we can make to the traditional recipe to minimise the negative side-effects of the second helping. For the base, swapping shop bought pastry for a homemade alternative can instantly reduce your intake of refined fats and preservatives. This vegan shortcrust pastry recipe is super simple, and if you’ve got a sweet pecan filling, removing one spoonful of sugar will balance the flavours. For the filling, (along with the obvious pecans) we recommend using a blended mixture of almond meal, molasses, dates, maple syrup, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) and a pinch of sea salt.
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