On Thanksgiving, the pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream tasted delicious. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
From now until 2018, there will be sweet treats laid out like a Candyland game board at every turn, from the office Christmas arty to the neighbor’s New Year’s Day potluck.
Need a chocolate truffle with that holiday shopping list? Pass the egg nog please. If the sugar doesn’t make us sick, the guilt that we feel about indulging in all of those calorie-laden bonbons probably will.
At The Nectary in Healdsburg and Sebastopol owned by Gia Baiocchi, the bakers substitute healthy fats like nuts and coconut oil for cheese and cream, and healthier sugars like honey and maple syrup for refined and processed sugars.
With alternatives like these, you can eat your holiday goodies and feel good afterwards. And when January rolls around, instead of facing sluggishness and sugar withdrawal, you’ll be clear-headed and ready to recommit to your health goals.
Hillary Mendoza and Meagan Ricks, who both work as raw food chefs at The Nectary, demonstrated all kinds of decadent desserts, from a Pumpkin Cheezecake to Crispy Crunchy Cranberry Cookies, during a “Healthy Holiday Sweets and Treats” class earlier this month at Relish in Healdsburg.
“Everyone seems to talk about being stressed out and the drinks and the treats this time of year,” Mendoza said.
“With these recipes, you can feel good ... and feel good about eating them.”
While some of the students revealed they were lactose-intolerant, others confessed to having food allergies, digestion issues and gluten sensitivities. One student simply had a sweet tooth that would not take “no” for an answer.
“I need to find sweets that are good for me,” said Terri Ottoboni of Windsor. “My friends used to call me the cookie monster.”
Although you may need to pick up some new tricks to substitute nut milks for dairy products, the results are satisfying and, once you get used to a reduced amount of sugar in your treats, just as delicious.
“There are alternatives that are just as good if not better than what you are used to,” Mendoza said.
“We are here to empower you so you can make choices that are good for you.”
Case in point: the Hold-the-Egg Nog, made with creamy cashew milk instead of heavy cream, sweetened with a hint of maple syrup and spiked with all the holiday spices we know and love, from cinnamon and nutmeg to turmeric and vanilla.
“The cashews help recreate that sweet, cow’s milk flavor,” Ricks said.
“Turmeric is an antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory. It also helps create the golden color.”
The recipe for Crunchy Crispy Cranberry Cookies was also a hit with the class, including Ottoboni, who said she would make them as gifts this year to give to friends and family.
The cookies are made with rolled oats and oat flour, pecans for crunch, spices like cardamom and nutmeg for flavor and maple syrup and coconut sugar for sweetness. The coconut sugar looks like brown sugar and has a caramel flavor.
Coconut oil and ground flax meal help bind the dry ingredients together, and orange zest and juice round out the flavors.
The Peppermint Bark — always a favorite at the holidays — consisted of a simple chocolate ganache as the bottom layer, made with cacao butter and cacao powder, and a White Chocolate Peppermint layer on top made with coconut butter and cacao butter, and a hint of Peppermint extract.
Food Is Medicine
Here is the schedule of upcoming classes at Relish taught by The Nectary staff.
Managing Holiday Stress: Foods, beverages and techniiques to practice self-care for the mind/body/spirit at 6 p.m. Dec. 7.
Detox & Cleanse Thyself: Detox tips from naturopathic doctors Chris Holder & Jen Reigle at 6 p.m. Jan. 18.
It Starts with Your Gut: Balance your digestive system to balance your body, mind and emotions at 6 p.m. Feb. 22.
Each class costs $96 and includes a full dinner with beverage. For more details or to register: relishculinary.com or 707-431-9999.
The Nectary is located in The Barlow at 6760 McKinley St. #130, Sebastopol, and on the Healdsburg Plaza, 312 Center St. Visit their website at thenectary.net.