This is my favorite time of year – fall festivals, beautiful scenery, and pumpkin-flavored everything. Family and friends gather for meals and parties, but the food can be tricky to navigate if you’ve got allergies or intolerances or you’re just trying to watch your waistline! 

The extra calories, the extra sugar, the extra fat, and the ensuing extra pounds!  It’s enough to make you just give up and put off taking care of your health until January (like everyone else). However, I have some simple swaps you can make to make those holiday meals and cookies just a bit more healthy and nutrient dense. 

Swap List:

• Instead of heavy cream use full fat canned coconut milk or cashew cream

• Instead of white flour use 3 parts almond flour, 1 part flax meal or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Paleo Blend flour

• Instead of vegetable oil use coconut oil, gently melted; or ghee, olive oil

• Instead of sugar use coconut palm sugar, raw honey, monk fruit or allulose

• Instead of corn syrup use raw honey or maple syrup (and less of it)

• Instead of white potatoes use sweet potatoes or parsnips

• Instead of margarine use real butter or grass-fed pastured butter; ghee 

• Instead of Crisco use real pastured lard or palm shortening

• Instead of whip cream use the cream from a can of coconut milk and whip it

• Instead of a conventional turkey purchase a pastured turkey from a local farm, like Whiffletree Farm (they cook in half the time!)

To give you an example of how to put this into action, take the pecan pie served at Thanksgiving. Instead of the usual corn syrup, I sub real maple syrup. I also use almond flour for the crust. For my pumpkin pie, I used full fat coconut milk instead of the evaporated or condensed milk that some recipes call for. 

You can sub coconut palm sugar for any recipe that calls for granulated sugar using a 1:1 ratio. If you use raw honey, you’ll need to use a bit less since it’s much sweeter. 

Try to use real, natural ingredients that your grandmother would have used to cook with. Most food today is highly processed with added chemicals, preservatives and highly refined sugars that do extensive damage to our bodies, even in a short time frame. Remember to read the ingredient labels and look for added chemical preservatives like BHA, BHT, sodium benzoate, partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, just to name a few. 

Now, to help balance your blood sugar over the holiday, try these tips:

1. Make sure you eat a lean protein first at mealtime. 

2. Then, eat vegetables for fiber and some healthy fat to keep you satisfied for hours. If you do eat starchy carbs, save those for last. 

3. Take a 15-minute walk after your meals. This can help lower glucose levels. 

4. Stick to the turkey and vegetables and skip the rolls, biscuits and crackers. 

5. Stop eating just before you start to feel really full. 

6. Stick to water, herbal teas, or my pumpkin elixir for beverages and skip the alcohol. 

Pumpkin Rooibos Elixir

INGREDIENTS

Rooibos herbal tea (I use Numi or Organic India teas)

10 oz hot water  •  1 tbsp of pure pumpkin puree

¼ tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice blend (optional) I use Simply Organic spices

1 scoop of Collagen Peptides (optional, but adds protein)

1 tsp cinnamon • ¼ cup of Elmhurst cashew milk or almond milk

DIRECTIONS 

• First, steep the tea in hot water in your blender. Then, add the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend.

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