The no-guilt guide to enjoying holiday sweets

holiday desserts Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The holidays are here and that means it's time to savor holiday foods while spending time with your loved ones. It also means that watching your sugar intake becomes even more important.

During a normal day, the average American consumes more than twice the recommended amount of added sugar. This is a problem when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and blood sugar. But that doesn't mean you need to forsake all holiday sweets. Incorporating some simple changes when making desserts will reduce the amount of added sugar you consume so you can enjoy the holidays guilt-free.

Sugar-saving tips for preparing holiday desserts
  1. Use fresh or dried fruits for a little extra fiber and natural sweetness
  2. Let strong flavors like sea salt, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder take center-stage
  3. Increase protein or healthy fats by using Greek yogurt, nuts or seeds for more filling and satisfying treats
  4. Try carbs with a lower Glycemic Index, such as coconut sugar or whole wheat flour, to keep blood sugar stable
  5. Incorporate sweet and savory spices like cinnamon, sage and thyme
Dark chocolate and ginger biscotti recipe

Here's a recipe that incorporates whole wheat pastry flour and unsweetened cocoa powder. It still has sugar, but much less than you'll find in other holiday treats.

Serves: 24

Ingredients

1 cup flour, all purpose

1 cup flour, whole wheat

2/3 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 tbs baking powder

½ tsp salt, Kosher

2 ea eggs, large

2 ea egg yolk

1 cup sugar, white granulated

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup canola oil

6 oz chocolate, dark

½ cup walnuts, roasted, chopped

2 oz ginger, dried crystallized

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until well-mixed; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg, egg yolk and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in the vanilla and oil until well-combined.
  3. With the mixer on low, beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in walnuts, chocolate chunks and minced crystallized ginger with a rubber spatula (dough will be stiff).
  4. With moistened hands, shape the dough into logs, each about 8 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide. Bake until set on top, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees.
  5. Transfer logs to a cutting board and, with a serrated knife, cut 1/2 inch thick cookies (makes 48). Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes, turning the biscotti over midway through. Cool 5 minutes on a baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Serving size: 2 biscotti

Cal 190, Fat 10g, Sat fat 2g, Sod 105mg, Carbs 24g, Fib 2g, Sug 13g, Pro 3g

Happy Holidays!

Heather Snively, MS, RD, is a nutrition and wellness manager at Guckenheimer, an on-site corporate restaurant management and catering company. She received her Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Washington in 2011. Heather is passionate about helping others determine the best way to enjoy food and stay healthy. Her food philosophy is simple: moderation in all things, except for vegetables-eat all the vegetables you like.