Thursday, November 4, 2010

Healthier Gluten Free Holiday Recipes

Today starts the beginning of a series of posts hosted by Amy Green of Simply Sugar & Gluten Free, entitled "A Gluten Free Holiday." Each week will feature a different roundup of gluten free recipes just for the holidays!

Ricki Heller, author of the blog Diet, Dessert, and Dogs is the first hostess of 2010's "A Gluten Free Holiday." Ricki's focus today is on gluten free holiday recipes made a little bit healthier.  Please head over to Ricki's blog today to see the wonderful list of healthier holiday recipes.

Ricki also has a FANTASTIC giveaway today featuring several copies of two wonderful gluten free cookbooks:

A  copy of Cybele Pascal’s wildly popular cookbook, The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook:

AND THREE signed copies of Ali and Tom’s amazing cookbook, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook:

TO enter to win, please visit Ricki's blog to learn how! 

A few of my personal tips for making recipes healthier are:

  • Cut the sugar. Just because a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar doesn't mean you have to use a whole cup. I often cut the sugar by half in most recipes and I try to use 1/3 cup of a sweetener or less in most of the recipes. If you've never tried other sweeteners this is a good time to use them. Try agave nectar, honey, palm sugar, or molasses. Give stevia a try. I love using liquid forms of stevia in my hot tea every day. Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and mint to baked goods. It brings out the natural sweetness in many foods. 
  • Opt for a healthier fat. Coconut oil. Olive oil. Nut oils. Palm oil. Try to stay away from "vegetable" oils which are often soy based and highly processed. Natural oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and nut oils do not contain unhealthy trans-fats (which you will find in artificial foods like margarine & shortening products.) My favorite oil to use is Tropical Traditions coconut oil. I use it in most of my baking and everyday cooking. 
  • Limit the salt. As Americans who often eat processed foods, we can overdo salt nearly every day. I have high blood pressure and I've learned that salt can be hiding in nearly every food we eat. It's recommended to consume no more than 2300 mg of salt daily for a "normal" person, and no more than 1500 mg. of salt daily if you have a history of high blood pressure, that's less than a teaspoon of salt. (And those numbers may be changing soon, as many health professionals still feel those amounts are TOO high!) If you're buying ready-made, processed foods check the food labels carefully for the amount of salt, and make sure you are only eating the recommended serving. 

Some of my favorite gluten free healthier holiday recipes:

Almond Joy Impossible Pie:
A healthier holiday pie that has a ton of flavor from coconut and chocolate! It's also a super easy dessert recipe that does not require making a crust. A reader favorite! 

Cranberry Cobbler:
My mom's recipe made a little bit healthier. This is my favorite holiday side dish that combines the tartness of cranberries with the sweetness of pineapple and oranges.

Pecan Pumpkin Pie Bars:
Pumpkin pie made a little bit healthier. With less sugar, more spices, and the wonderful crunch of pecans, these naturally gluten free bars are a healthier traditional favorite!

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole: 
A healthier take on one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. Less sugar, a little less fat, but still a fantastic crispy crust on top of sweet potatoes & my favorite apples & cinnamon. 

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