Note: I first published this post in 2012. Reading it now, the corners of my holly jolly cheeks lift in ironic jest. “Hah!” I say to my younger self. “You thought that was healthy?” For sure, my definition of healthful food has shifted. Just goes to show – diets or no – tastes evolve. I’m a nomadic foodie. What was once a rest area on my road to health is now a spot to zoom by and toss wildflower seeds for next year’s visitors. I wonder what new foodie facts I’ve yet to discover and how that will change my plate; which resembles a map more than a platter. When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.
In that spirit of transformation, I’ve tweaked the original recipe below. Notes in red reflect new food discoveries, including:
- Sugar, any sugar, can raise blood sugar and initiate the corrosive pathway of inflammation and disease, but there are ways to have my fudge and not let it eat me, too.
- There’s some damn good fats out there that actually heal the body while releasing flavor pheromones as good as any afternoon delight.
- We have more flour alternatives than ever; options which nourish as well as preserve the fluffy pillow talk I enjoy between me and my Morning Glory muffin.
Special thanks to Anna Rose-McComb of Tiny Farm Nutrition and Fitness for these discoveries. If they’re new to you, as they once were to me, I invite you to taste them in the most delicious way I can dream up: in the fudge recipe below which can satisfy holiday cravings and literally not make me fat. Enjoy!
From 2012…We’re smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season, and I’m starting to do a lot more smackin’ — of my lips, that is. I love, love, love Christmas treats: peanut butter fudge, yogurt-covered pretzels, divinity, candy canes, ribbon candy, brightly painted Christmas sugar cookies, and those morsels with the jelly in the middle. What else is out there? Too bad no one has discovered a way for me to eat my fudge and not gain weight, too (Guess what, girl…) Nonetheless, I’ve accepted my love for Christmas treats. This year, instead of fighting the temptation or judging myself for caving into desire, I’ve made peace with the bounty of sugar, butter, and chocolate that appears this time of year. If I maintain my weight from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, I count that as a win.
To celebrate and embrace my holiday sweet tooth, I’d like to share a favorite recipe. Hubby and I love to bake up these Cranberry Walnut Breads as gifts. Whenever I watch him in the kitchen I’m convinced he’d make a great TV chef. I’d put a twist on it and call it The Naked Baker Show (camera peeking just above the counter). But, that’s for another blog…Here’s the recipe:
Cranberry Walnut Bread
- 6 T. orange zest from 6 large oranges
- 2 cups orange juice from those oranges (tons of hidden sugar in orange juice, so I recommend keeping the fiber by blending slices into a puree, since fiber can slow spikes in blood sugar)
- 4 cups buttermilk (canned coconut milk and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar offers more nutrition without sacrificing the silky texture)
- 1 pound, 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (Let’s all cheer together: Butter is our friend! I like a quality grass-fed brand like Tillamook — I called their office, and they pasture their cows up until freezing in Oregon, so the boxes on the shelves now contain the last of this summer’s grass turned to gold.)
- 6 large eggs (Comparing store-bought yolks to the blazing orbs gifted by our backyard chickens, there’s no contest. Go backyard if you can.)
- 12 cups flour (Nut flours, gluten free mixes, bean flours, keep going and keep experimenting until you find your fave. My current go-to is Pamela’s Baking Mix.)
- 6 cups sugar (Damn, that’s a lot of sugar. Two routes for modifying: eat these muffins with lots of roughage to slow sugar absorption or — my preference — replace most of the sugar with ground almonds mixed with coconut flour. Both have a natural sweetness and offer more nutrition.)
- 2 T. salt
- 2 T. baking powder
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 7 1/2 cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped, approx. 3 bags
- 3 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsly chopped
Each batch makes 6 loaves.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- In large bowl, whisk together flour (alternative), salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- In another large bowl, whisk eggs (thank the chickens). Add
buttermilk coconut milk/vinegar, melted butter, orange juice puree, and orange zest to eggs and stir thoroughly.
- Add just a bit of sugar and almond/coconut flour mix to liquid ingredients, stir.
- Add chopped cranberries and toasted walnuts to liquid mixture.
- Stir dry ingredients into liquid mixture; stir just until moistened. Do not over-mix.
Grease (coconut oil!) and flour (alternative) 6, 9 x 5 loaf pans and divide batter into each. Spread evenly into corners of pans and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 and continue baking for about 50-60 minutes more, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Heads-up: these healthier substitutions may shift the temp and time a bit, so stay vigilant, check often and tweak if necessary. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Spread with as much butter or coconut oil as your heart desires!
The Fudge that Won’t Make You Fat
- Coconut oil, 1 cup
- Cocoa powder, 1/2 cup (less if you prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate)
- Honey, 3 Tbsp, or to taste
- Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp, or to taste
- Almond butter, 2 cups
- Optional for a more creamy fudge: canned coconut milk, 1/4 cup
- Sea salt for sprinkling
- In microwave-safe bowl: mix coconut oil, cocoa, vanilla extract, and honey.
- Nuke 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat until silky.
- In bigger bowl: mix almond butter and coconut milk (if desired). Combine chocolate mix into this big bowl and stir ’til thick and sexy. Sample and tweak if desired.
- Pour into a baking and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Freeze until firm. Cut and serve.
When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.
“Eat to Thrive,” a free eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year absolutely brimming with more reasons food can be a friend.
Read Anna’s Tiny Blog at www.tinyfarmnutrition.com
Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.