This time of year calls for an array of traditional treats and newfound Pinterest recipes, and holidays with kids can mean a month of sugar highs and sweet temptations. With food being the center of almost every festive occasion, it can be easy for anyone to get carried away with too much added sugar and fat. Here are a few tips for making your holidays a little lighter:
Bake It to Make It
Store-bought varieties of your holiday favorites tend to be full of extra sugar, fat and preservatives. It may be best to opt for healthier homemade versions instead. Enjoy quality time with your little ones while teaching them the importance of nutrition. If you have to opt for store-bought treats try to look for whole-grain ingredients offering higher fiber content or healthy additions like natural dried fruit and nuts.
Find and Replace
Find baking swaps or replacements for high fat/high sugar ingredients:
- Unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar or oil
- Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or Oil
- Honey instead of sugar (Yes, still a sugar, but it doesn’t send your blood sugar levels soaring like white sugar)
- Mashed bananas instead of butter/oil
- Whole-wheat flours instead of white flour (provides fiber and nutrients that white flour lacks)
For most baking swaps, ingredients should measure a one to one ratio, but depending on the recipe some proportions may vary and take a little experimentation.
Everything in Moderation
It is important for both kids and adults to enjoy a healthy balance of all food and beverages. Keep in mind that fat is an essential nutrient for children and helps to supply the energy they need to grow and play. Fat should never be severely restricted in a child’s diet. However, high fat intake and saturated fats can cause health problems such as heart disease later in life. Sugar itself does provide fuel and energy necessary for daily activities, but parents should keep in mind that calories from sugar can add up fast and lead to weight gain and tooth decay.
Sugar cookies with whole-wheat flour:
- 3 1/2 cups, freshly milled, whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 2 sticks (cold) butter, cut into chunks
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
In a mixer, cream the butter and raw honey. Once the mixture has come together, creamed, add the egg and vanilla extract. Once combined, gradually, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, making sure to scrape the bowl. Do not overmix.
The dough will be in masses; make sure to knead it together as you scoop it out of the bowl.
Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes.
Place on parchment-lined baking stone or sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Allow to rest for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Once cooled, frost and decorate.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, humblekitchen.com