Let's face it: even if you go out of your way to avoid sugar year-round, it inevitably finds you during the holidays. And why not? Holiday celebrations and special sweets have been linked for ages. The key is to pick a few treats you love and let the rest go (do snowman Peeps and PB-chocolate santas really evoke the holiday spirit? Didn't think so.). Even better, look for updated versions of the sweets you love that skip the refined sugar, trans fats and bleached flour.
I adore the warm spice of gingerbread, but I think it tastes best when it's not sticky-sweet and glazed in another layer of sugar. I was thrilled to find a delicious-looking recipe in The Way of the Happy Woman, and after testing several gingerbread recipes last weekend I pronounced this one the absolute winner! It's gluten and dairy-free, packed with plenty of antioxidant rich cloves, anti-inflammatory ginger, blood sugar-steadying cinnamon and calming nutmeg. The sweetness is limited to agave nectar and molasses and the fat is from quick-metabolizing coconut oil.
Here's the goods:
|Gingerbread, via The Way of the Happy Woman||
- 2 cups gluten-free flour mix
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons dried ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened almond, rice or hemp milk
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg (or place 1 tablespoon chia seeds in a cup, and add 3 tablespoons water. Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes. 1/4 cup hydrated chia seeds equals approximately 1 egg.)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for oiling the pan
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix together well with a wooden spoon. Combine wet ingredients in a bowl, and do the same. Gradually add the wet to the dry, blending with a mixer on medium speed until the batter is smooth. Grease a loaf pan with the extra coconut oil, and pour in batter. Bake for about an hour, until risen and firm.
Coconut oil can sometimes be hard to measure (especially at this time of year, when it turns solid. I used organic, fair trade, extra virgin coconut oil baking sticks from Kelapo, and loved them! I also used only half of the black pepper called for, but next time I plan to go for the whole teaspoon. This recipe freezes well, makes a yummy snack and a lovely homemade holiday gift.
If you're looking for a book that will help you to make time for your needs in a busy world, to appreciate the seasons and to feed your mind, body and spirit, The Way of the Happy Woman by Sarah Avant Stover is just that. It's my favorite new read. The book's seasonal approach means that it's perfect to begin reading at the start of a season (hmm...the winter solstice is in 2 days!) or a new year. I just know that you will look back at the timeless information in this book for seasons, and years, to come.