Desserts are certainly an integral part of our daily lives during the holidays. Of course, I will not tell you to stop consuming them… As we’ve already said, they can also be part of a balanced diet as long as there are no exaggerations. So, desserts -and especially Christmas sweet treats- contain a lot of fat, sugar, and preservatives. If we want to avoid gaining weight as well as going on express diets - something that many people are, wrongly, used to doing after the holidays - is to pay a little more attention to the desserts that we will consume.
I, like every year, do not want to have anyone complaining. That's why I searched and found various Christmas sweet treats and turned them into the healthiest and most nutritious version. Of course, I also found vegan options for our strictly vegetarian friends!
So, for all of you who are -more or less- on a diet or who want to consume nutritious options, follow the following rules… on which I also relied to create these desserts!
Rule 1: Aim to prepare and consume desserts in their healthiest and most nutritious version.
Rule 2: Reduce fats as much as possible, by using the best sources of fat -where possible- such as olive oil, avocado, and light versions of cream cheese or heavy cream.
Rule 3: Reduce the sugar where possible and add some other sweetener e.g. stevia, or honey, or some agave or maple syrup.
Rule 4: Add fruits for decoration or wherever you can in your recipe to give a ΄΄natural΄΄ sweet taste.
Rule 5: Use whole-grain products such as whole-wheat flour or other options such as coconut flour, carob flour, or sweet potato. That is, ingredients that have more nutrients and more fiber and they will keep us full for longer.
Rule 6: Use nuts and seeds that have more nutrients too, and that bring us more satiety. You can also use almond butter, wholegrain tahini, or peanut butter that will give a wonderful taste to your dessert and -of course- offer you more satiety and more protein as well.
Rule 7: Do not make exaggerations with the quantities! No matter the case, a dessert is always a dessert … I can’t make the calories disappear… what I can and did do is give you better, more nutritious versions of desserts! So, give them a try and tell me your opinion!
For those of you who love a panna cotta, this version will make you lick your fingers! Not only is it considered healthy and contains 180 calories per serving, but it is also low in total and saturated fat, and is a good source of protein and fiber. This basically means that it can make us feel full for longer, which is not common with desserts due to the high sugars and low fiber they usually contain. In fact, this recipe also contains vitamin C, which is known to be essential for boosting our immune system.
And now, let's get to the muffins! They can be a great idea for your Christmas breakfast. Definitely do not make them a habit. With this recipe, you will again consume the healthiest and most nutritious version of muffins. They contain 243 calories per serving and are a good source of manganese, phosphorus, and selenium; essential trace elements for energy production, bone health, and the proper function of our immune system. I'm sure they will become your favorite muffins!
Okay, they’re brownies. Sweet potato, peanut butter, oats, cocoa powder, and cashews are some of the pure ingredients in this recipe. Because of these foods that it contains, it is a recipe rich in fiber and protein. Yes, it contains a lot of fats, but many of them belong to the polyunsaturated, or otherwise known as "good", fatty acids. All you have to do -besides to prepare it- is not to overdo it with the quantities. Everything is better in moderation, as we know very well!
Here is an ideal recipe for those who follow a strictly vegetarian diet. It contains oats, almonds, dates, turmeric, berries, and coconut. Despite its many calories and fats, it contains protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as the B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc. I would also recommend it to people who exercise, as a more nutritious version of an energy bar before the workout. I told you I don’t want anyone complaining!
I saved the best for last! Okay, I will not lie - even the healthy version of this Christmas recipe has plenty of calories. Specifically, it contains 496 calories, but also 9 g fiber and 11 g protein per serving. In fact, it contains our favorite coconut which will give a truly different taste to your Christmas yule log. In case you don’t know, coconut -although it contains a lot of fat- also contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which seem to be absorbed more easily and are used by the body directly for energy production, instead of being stored as body fat. For this reason, they are even used for weight loss as well as by endurance athletes since some studies have shown that the use of these fats, as a source of energy, may help improve performance!
Well, isn't it nice to find such alternatives and eat more balanced by making better dietary choices? I think it is worth it! Prepare these treats and I’ll be waiting for your comments and photos! Happy Christmas holidays to everyone!
This article was written in collaboration with the Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.
* The website akispetretzikis.com offers as a service a variety of blogs and articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.