Monday, December 14, 2009

Conscience-Friendly Christmas Delights: Part I

Christmas Eve is 10 days away! Now the crunch time is on... Christmas baking, Christmas shopping, Christmas programs, Christmas cards, Christmas letters... Christmas PARTIES. There are so many tempting cookies, candies, Christmas drinks, pastries...  And then there are those great Hallmark Christmas movies, where everyone seems to be making delicious sweets and goodies. Who can resist such a heavenly aroma? How can a person survive this time of year without the pounds of butter in those cookies adding pounds on the bathroom scale? After all, Christmas cookies and such are simply part of our Christmas tradition. I guess the January resolutions and weight-loss programs are also part of the tradition! (wink)

This time of the year, people gather for all kinds of parties and family get-togethers. There is generally so much food around, it's difficult to resist! And if you're the host, you'll have left-overs to tempt you for perhaps weeks ahead. We all know that the staples of Christmas baking (white flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, butter, peanut butter, vegetable oil, etc) are not good for us. Is there a way to have some special foods this time of year without sabotaging our health at the same time? Definitely. Here are some simple ideas:

Crudites! This is simply raw vegetables. Arrange sliced vegetables of a variety of colors on a beautiful platter. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery, and Red Bell Pepper make for a festive Christmas display. A delicious dip is the following:

Creamy Basil Brazil Nut Dip:

2 cups Brazil nuts, soaked overnight
1/8 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water (or as needed to thin)

Add the brazil nuts (discard soaking water), lemon juice, garlic, basil, and salt to a high speed blender, adding water as needed, and blend until smooth. Adjust consistency as desired. (It will thicken once refrigerated). Serve with mixed raw vegetables.

Fresh and Dried Fruit & Nut Arrangement: This can be a beautiful tray. You may want to put the nuts and dried fruits or any especially juicing fresh fruits in smaller bowls on the tray to prevent anything from going soggy. Decorate with greenery, like fresh rosemary. Here are some ideas:

Dried fruits: cherries, white figs, medjool dates, mango, prunes

Fresh fruits: kiwi slices, apple slices (cut horizontally, so that you see the star in the middle) dipped in orange juice (to prevent browning), a small bowl of pomegranate seeds with a spoon, clementine oranges, pineapple chunks
Nuts: whole pecans walnuts, almonds, pistachios (not dyed), hazelnuts-- whatever you most enjoy.

Fruit Bowl: Pile it high with small apples, clementine oranges, baby bananas, and green pears. A centerpiece and healthy snacking all in one!

Pomegranate Punch: A beautiful ruby red festive Christmas beverage, garnished with orange and lemon sunbursts:

Pomegranate Punch
1 organic orange, unpeeled
1 organic lemon, unpeeled
1 bottle (2 liters) seltzer water, chilled
1 1/2 cups unsweetened 100% pomegranate juice
Sweetener (optional): raw honey or organic maple syrup to taste, some stevia, or a combination

Remove ends from orange and lemon and then cut four slices from each fruit. Combine seltzer, juice, and orange and lemon slices in a pretty pitcher or punch bowl.

What are those truffle-like cookies in the picture, you ask? Stay tuned... I'll tell you how to make them in an upcoming post!

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