Christmas is fast approaching! A time of birth, a time of light, a time of joy. A time that calls for celebration! Which, traditionally, involves lots of delicious foods and sweet treats. As a real food family indulging in sweets isn’t an everyday happening, but I do love making my family some good yumminess every now and then! And actually, making treats is a piece of real food cake if you just know what to substitute for unwanted ingredients. Below, I will try to inspire you with some of my favorite tips and tricks for some Christmas-inspired real food yuminess!
Substituting flour or sugar
For cookies and cupcakes use whole flour like spelt, rye, or your favorite gluten-free flour. I like buckwheat and quinoa, which are not really grains, but grain-like seeds. They make a versatile flour that tastes fairly neutral. Almond flour is also a really versatile and grain-free alternative (although can not typically be substituted one for one in baking recipes).
Sugar is best replaced with either fruit (fresh or dried) or natural unrefined sweeteners like coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, or raw honey. When following a recipe, try to sub liquid for liquid and granulated for granulated. Since we real foodies might want our cookies to be a little less sweet than the average American cookie, I’d recommend using only 1/2 to 3/4 of the sugar in a recipe. You can use even less if combined with mashed banana, applesauce or dried fruit like dates or raisins! Bananas work really well as a sweetener and can help bind cookies and cupcakes without the use of eggs or gluten.
Chocolate is an essential when it comes to Christmas treats. (It is essential any time of year, really). Making your own chocolate is fun and easy, not to mention delicious!
Chocolate is basically cacao powder, fats and sweetener. Cacao powder can be either raw or roasted: raw has many health benefits but is also quite intense on the nervous system, which is why for children or sensitive people I prefer to use a mix of roasted cacao and carob. For the fat content, any solid fat is suitable. Cacao butter has a very rich chocolaty taste and makes the most solid chocolate. Coconut oil is also a good healthy option: it has a pleasant but mild taste and is easier to find than cacao butter. Coconut oil chocolate will melt more easily and is best kept refrigerated. For a good solid chocolate I prefer to use granulated sweetener like coconut palm sugar, although the combination of chocolate and honey is also a very tasty one! Adding some sweet dried fruits like dates, raisins or mulberries works wonderful too. Here is a basic recipe for homemade chocolate for you to try. The nuts taste particularly good with some honey added! You can, of course leave out the nuts and stuff your chocolates with whatever you like.
For Appearance Sake
For Christmas, think about adding warming fruits and spices like orange oil, ginger or cinnamon to your creations. Goji berries have a pleasant and rich taste and a bright red color, which makes them a perfect ingredient for your christmas treats. A few days ago, I made energy balls from this recipe using goji berries and 1/4 banana. I then rolled them through some grated coconut for decoration. It looked awesome!
For decoration or frosting, soften some coconut cream in a bain marie and mix in a little honey or maple syrup. If needed, add some coconut oil or cacao butter to make it more solid, but the mixture will harden when refrigerated. For cake and ice cream, blended fruit with chia seeds make a healthy and delicious jelly-like topping! For a playful and festive effect, sprinkle white chia seeds on dark chocolate just before it fully hardens. Decorate cookies, chocolate and other treats with grated coconut, cacao nibs, finely chopped goji berries, almond flakes or finely chopped nuts and seeds.
To inspire you, I have gathered some pretty awesome real food treats for you that could easily pass as a Christmas special:
Awesome real food fudgy truffles (I’ve tried coating them with a layer of chocolate – sensational!)
Grain-free chocolate cloud cakes to float away with!
Fairly healthy deliciously glazed nuts.
Check out these gluten-free Christmas cookies from Modern Alternative Mama!
Minty green delights to enjoy after a savory meal (or any other time).
Coconut-chocolate bonbons to steal the hearts of your audience.
Chia chocolate mousse to keep you going when you have hours of tree-decorating, caroling or unpacking gifts ahead of you!
These grain-free cranberry lemon scones would make an awesome dessert.
Raw eggless nog…yum!!
Wishing you the warmest, brightest, most joyful, and of course, yummiest Christmas!
Please let us know…What sweet treats will you serve this Christmas?