December. The jolly month of celebrations and family get togethers. The month for lots of scrumptious food a go go. The month when happy kids play outside in the cold. I lived in London for many years. I LOVE winter. Cold short nights are for me like a love affair. I grew up spending every Christmas that I can remember in London with my great grandmother and grandmother. It was a full house, glowing with warmth and the aroma of baking. We used to make delicious cookies and yummy cakes which would melt in our mouths that we would savor all month long. As time passed and I became more health conscious, I realized that I would need to control my sugar intake. If not for my waist then for my teeth! Now with my own two kids at home, I want to maintain the tradition and joy in celebrating everything December has to offer. This time of the year is not only visually stimulating with all the beautiful lights and decorations everywhere, the jolly music constantly playing, but the conviviality of family and friends coming together make it particularly significant.
I look forward to advent calendars, baking desserts, roasting chestnuts and marshmallows, digging into fruit cakes and iced muffins, and sipping on hot chocolate. Yes, you got it right! December could be a month of gluttony, unless we take a healthier approach to seasonal fare. We can enjoy all that is on offer and teach ourselves and our kids that food, whether sweet or savory, can be and should be nourishing as well as tasty. By making a few adjustments, substituting sugar for healthier alternatives, using wholemeal flour instead of white, and replacing processed ingredients with organic and naturally dried substances, we can enjoy healthy foods that are both delicious and life enhancing. Here are two recipes, one is for super powered hot chocolate, and the other one is gingerbread cookies! Cut them out in any shape you want and your kids can decorate them for extra holiday activity fun!
- Hot Chocolate Recipe:
2 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
2 tsp. maca powder
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
pinch sea salt
pinch cinnamon powder
pinch cardamom powder
small piece vanilla bean, scraped or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 ½ cups milk of your choice or water
- Boil water or warm milk on the stove and let cool slightly.
- Whisk in dry ingredients. Serve immediately.
5 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup coconut oil, chilled in fridge
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl.
Beat together oil and coconut sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then honey and molasses.
While the beater is still on, gradually add flour mixture until well combined.
Divide dough into 3 balls, and wrap each in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 175°.
Working with one of the balls of dough at a time, roll dough out to 1/2cm thickness on non stick sheet.
Freeze rolled dough for 15 minutes.
Cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
Transfer cookies to non stick baking pan, and freeze again for 15 minutes.
Bake until edges turn golden, about 15 minutes.
Let cookies cool completely before decorating.