Healthy Holiday Treats

The empty calories in seasonal desserts can sabotage a diet plan. Enjoy guilt-free versions of Christmas favorites. Give the gift of good nutrition.

Nutrients don’t have to be sacrificed for the taste of rich foods. Here’s a recipe that tastes good and has chia, an ingredient that qualifies as a nutritious superfood. Nuts may be high in fat and calories, but they also have fiber, antioxidants and protein. The healthy treats listed here are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, contain no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, and are low in sodium.

Chia is a Member of the Mint Family

Salvia hispanica, or chia, is a flowering annual herb native to Mexico and Guatemala. The ancient Aztecs considered chia a delicacy fit for kings. The plant’s tiny black seeds are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and amino acids.

Chia seeds are a complete protein. They don’t have any flavor and can be added to many foods. Chia seeds turn into a gel when soaked in liquids. Traditionally, they are mixed in water with lime juice and sweetened to make a refreshing drink.

Chia Pumpkin Pudding

  • 1 cup (raw) cashews or brazil nuts
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 drops liquid stevia, an herbal sweetener suitable for diabetics
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  1. Blend the cashews or brazil nuts and wat
  2. n high speed until smooth
  3. Blend in vanilla and stevia
  4. Pour chia seeds into the cashew mixt
  5. stirring constantly until well mixed
  6. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin pie filling. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Bananas Are High in Potassium

The fruit also contains pectin, a heart-healthy soluble fiber. Other nutrients in bananas are vitamin C, B6 and manganese. Top with a sprinkle of walnut pieces to add good fats and insoluble fiber, the type that keeps you regular.

Fast and Easy Banana-Pumpkin Ice Cream

For this recipe, freeze bananas by peeling and slice them into 1″ chunks when they are ripe but not mushy. Putting no more than two bananas in a quart-size freezer bag will make them more manageable to break apart by hand as they go into the food processor.

  • Six sliced frozen bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup plain almond milk
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin pie filling
  1. Puree bananas in food processor with vanilla, add liquid milk slowly and pulse and stir as needed until a creamy consistency without chunks is reached.
  2. Fold in pumpkin pie mix.
  3. Serve immediately.

Try These Variations:

If you prefer, blend in frozen berries instead of pumpkin pie mix. Or, to make chocolate ice cream, add one tablespoon of carob powder.

This holiday season take care of yourself and family members. Substitute nutritious treats for empty calories. You’ll feel better.

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