Saturday, November 29, 2014

Holiday Treats, Cheats, and Good Eats!

 As you know, my focus is on clean eating -- all year long.  It's a lot harder this time of year, that's for sure, but I do try really hard to stay as clean as possible.  I allow myself more leeway this time of year but not too much!  But Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without lots of special treats, would it?  I am guessing, based on my limited knowledge that the same may be true of Hanukkah.  These two holidays run right up into each other this year.  But alas I don't know much about kosher Hanukkah recipes. So, if you keep kosher, I hope you can use some of these too!

MR and I have a little holiday thing we started a few years ago.  We weigh ourselves the day before Thanksgiving and then again on January 2.  (You can weigh yourself in between to track progress.)  The goal is to not have gained any weight over the holiday period.  That's quite a goal, isn't it?  Last year I went over by about 4 pounds.  I wasn't happy about it, but I recognized that it could have been a lot worse.  This year, I have some new tricks up my sleeve.  

As you may know, if you read my post about low carb tracking with MyFitnessPal, I have recently started paying more attention to not just eating clean, whole foods, but also specific counts.  For me, it isn't just the carb count, or the calorie count (I really still don't pay a lot of attention to the calories even though it's part of the app), it is a mix of carbs, fats, and proteins.  I am having more success lately by making sure I am getting enough good fat.  So all that just to say, I am hopeful that this year will be different.  I will use the MyFitnessPal app to keep an eye on what's going on.  But I'm sure I will indulge occasionally too.  The app helps me factor that in so it isn't a complete debacle.

The other tricks I have up my sleeve are some really amazing recipes that I will take to events to share whenever possible.  We have a potluck at work every year.  Plus this year we have a big retirement party.  My office provides the protein (ham and turkey) for the pot luck and everyone brings sides and desserts.  I will be very involved in providing snacks for the retirement.  My boss (who also eats clean) and I will stack the deck in our favor and make sure we bring some amazing clean eats so we can feel like we are indulging, even when we really aren't!

The Grandparents will come to our house this year for Christmas.  This blog is as much for that purpose as anything.  I want to be well prepared for this gathering!  The Grandparents are wise to my clean eating tricks, but have learned to at least try what I offer... usually.  And I think they have often been pleasantly surprised!  If you have been at this very long you have likely learned that most favorites can be replicated in a clean eating way.  I haven't been stumped yet, although my friend Jaime keeps trying!!!

So, what's on the menu this year?  Let's take a look!  And, oh by the way, these and many other great holiday ideas are over on my Pinterest page for low carb clean eating holiday recipes.

One more quick thing... I mention it at various places below but want to point out that you can substitute your preferred sweetener in most cases.  I would stick with granulated sweetener if that's the type called for (or liquid if that is the case, etc.) but other than that, you should be able to sub easily.  I do it all the time using coconut sugar, honey, or blackstrap molasses.

Cranberry Salsa - I bought cranberries every time I went to the store in November.  Some I just wash and then freeze fresh.  Others I dry.  I don't add any sweetener because I love the tart flavor.  But I put a ton of cranberries in the freezer and this is one of the reasons why!  You can serve this with crackers as is, or you can pour it over a soft cheese like goat cheese.  It makes a fabulous snack before or after the big dinner!

Gingerbread Cookies - What would Christmas be without gingerbread men?  This particular recipe calls for Swerve sweetener.  I use coconut sugar, though.  It works the same!  It will give you a slightly higher carb count, if you are tracking that. 

Candied Yams with Marshmallows - I don't actually  make this recipe.   In our house, we eat fried yellow Jersey sweet potatoes for Main Event dinners.  But I wanted to throw it in because I know a lot of folks have this tradition.  And it isn't it nice you can have a clean version?  I have made clean marshmallow though and it isn't as hard as you might think.  The Kitchen-Aid did most of the work!   (They are one of the very few foods I will eat fried, but they are AWE-Some!)  

Gingerbread Scones - I love scones!  And what a great treat on Christmas morning with your favorite coffee!

Cranberry Scones -  Did I mention I love scones?  Oh yea!  And this one is amazing.  I mean, you know, it's CRANBERRIES!

Chocolate Glazed Pecans - Here's a great snack to toss back!  Nuts are always a holiday favorite in our house, and this gives the Grandpa one of his favorites but in a healthier version!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dirt Cake - This isn't very Christmas traditional but MR specifically mentioned dirt cake recently, and then lo and behold I ran across this recipe.  I will take it to a potluck to help us avoid all the other decadent desserts that I anticipate will be there.  It has gotten to the point that one group I regularly pot luck with always has great interest in what we will bring.  They have learned from us that clean eating does not have to be about giving up favorites!

Slow Cooker Gingerbread Cake - HA!  Talk about a win-win!  Slow cooker AND cake?!  Love this idea!  And the smell of gingerbread just says CHRISTMAS to me!  (I linked this through the original blogger's site so you will have to scroll down and click one more time but it will be worth it.  I have never made anything from that wasn't wonderful!)

Cookie Cut Outs - Another Christmas-wouldn't-be-Christmas-without kind of recipe!  Although cut outs can be tedious, this is the time of year that I don't mind doing it.  They are so lovely to look at and these are even lovelier to eat!!!

Sticky Buns!
Sticky Buns - Something extra special for the morning!  These are so delightful!!!  You know you want them!

And last but nowhere near least, cranberry fat flush drink drink to help clean it away!!  I have tons of fresh cranberries in the freezer and I am going to make homemade cranberry juice (this recipe calls for agave or white sugar; I prefer coconut sugar or Stevia but I think you could even sweeten with a little apple juice).

Okay, wait a minute! Wait a minute!  This is all about treats and sweets.  Why, yes it is!  Because, frankly, I think the easiest part about clean eating is meat and vegetables.  It's when I want a snack or a treat that I get in trouble.  But having all these great treat recipes really helps me.  So cook up your turkey, your ham, whatever you prefer.  Make a side of green beans, sweet potatoes, and even those candied yams (above!).  And then allow yourself a wonderful treat.  Just whatever you do, Keep it Clean!

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