There’s no denying that this weekend will include its fair share of holiday sweets and treats. And I’m not here to tell you to hold back, I mean it is Christmas after all, and I like cookies just as much as the next person. But, and there’s always a but, there are a handful of ways to increase the health benefits of your favorite cookies, pies, and cakes. Take a look the list below and you may see that many are already tucked away in your age-old family recipes.
Loading up on these seasonal flavors will not only pack a healthy punch, they can also help to satisfy additional sweet cravings and add flavor without extra salt, butter and refined sugar. Here are 10 ways to add a healthy holiday boost to your favorite festive sweets:
- Cinnamon: This spice has been known to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and boost brain function, all while acting as an anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal agent.
- Honey: This lower-glycemic, unrefined sweetener has been shown to act as a prebiotic, which helps with digestive health. Honey contains many nutrients including niacin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, and magnesium
- Maple Sugar: Maple sugar is dehydrated maple syrup, which contains amino acids, potassium, calcium, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid.
- Coconut Oil: This medium chain fatty acid helps lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease, all the while helping to increase metabolism, energy, and fat burning.
- Mint: Mint has long been used to soothe an upset stomach, alleviate headaches and relieve digestive distress.
- Cloves: This intense aromatic flavor contains an active component called eugenol, which has mild anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties.
- Nutmeg: This wintertime favorite has been known to regulate the gastrointestinal tract and promote sleep. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Ginger: This spicy root has long been used as a herbal medicine to relieve gastrointestinal distress and nausea, and in modern times has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is also used as a natural remedy for cold and flu symptoms and is thought to have immune boosting action.
- Date sugar: The minimal processing of grinding dehydrated dates means that all the nutrients and fiber remain intact in this natural sweetener, including folic acid and potassium.
- Cardamom: Among the many health benefits claimed for this spice are that it detoxifies the body and cleanses the kidneys. I can’t think of a better way to head into the New Year.