How to Avoid Unhealthy Foods This Holiday Season

How to Avoid Unhealthy Foods This Holiday Season

 “Bet you can’t eat just one!” This slogan became famous as commercial potato chip sales began to soar in the 1960s and it continues to be popular today. It’s true, that tasting those crunchy, salty, processed morsels, loaded with trans fats and damaged omega-6 oils, almost inevitably leads to another bite. Before you know it, you’re addicted, and constantly crave even more chips, with disastrous health implications down the line. Luckily not all snack foods are bad for you! Instead of succumbing to the siren’s song of commercial snack foods, try making your own easy, healthful versions. However, keep in mind that ongoing snacking is not a habit we advocate. One of the main benefits of a traditional foods diet is that it satiates without causing one to need to snack. Often, the holidays and social events often require a host or hostess to offer a variety of dishes such as healthy snacks and appetizers to please their guests. The snacks we list below accomplish this and they can occasionally make a meal substitution as well, for those trying to eat healthy on the go.

Don’t forget the dip!

Everyone loves a good dip, but most of the premade offerings are laden with vegetable oils full of omega-6 fats, high-fructose corn syrup, refined salt, pasteurized and homogenized dairy products, and a disturbing array of chemical preservatives and additives. However, there are many options that can easily be made from healthful ingredients. Try combining equal parts of raw, cultured crème fraîche and mayonnaise (made with olive or another healthful oil), then thin with a few tablespoons of fresh lime or lemon juice. Add a bit of minced garlic or onion, a handful of chopped fresh herbs, and season with an unrefined salt, such as Redmond Real Salt, and pepper to taste. You can vary the herbs to suit your mood—tarragon for a culinary trip to the French countryside, or cilantro for a jaunt to Mexico. For fun, add a dash of a fermented hot pepper sauce or even finely minced peppers—jalapeño for fresh heat, chipotle for smoky warmth, or habanero for a fiery blast. Refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend, and serve with sliced raw vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, fennel, and jicama) and lightly steamed vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprout halves, even winter squashes). The nutritious saturated fats in this dip will stick with you for hours, and the fiber from the vegetables will fill you up.

Add cheese to the mix

Raw cheeses from grassfed ruminants are very nutritious, with ample amounts of beneficial fats and protein to fill you up and keep you satisfied. Those intolerant to the casein in cow dairy might enjoy cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk. If you’re looking for a treat that satisfies your sweet tooth as well, try sautéing slices of apples, pears, or Fuyu persimmons in butter or ghee. As the fruit softens, add a squeeze of orange juice, some cinnamon, and a bit of unrefined salt to taste, and let the flavors develop as the mixture cooks down for a few minutes. Serve this with a log of chèvre or raw whipped cream and enjoy the delightful contrast of sweet and savory with a bit of citrus tang.

Nuts, the portable snack

For a filling combination of protein and fats look to tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. These portable nutritional powerhouses are perfect allies in a struggle to avoid unhealthful snack foods. Soaked and dried nuts can be flavored by adding spices, and they are easy to prepare. For example, cover raw almonds with warm filtered water, some salt, and soak overnight. Drain, and toss with ground spices like cinnamon or cocoa for a sweet-tasting treat. For a savory snack, try using cumin or cayenne, and perhaps a sprinkling of fine sea salt. Then put them in a dehydrator or an oven on low heat (preferably under 114 degrees F) for at least 12 hours, until crisp. Once dried, these keep well in an airtight container. . . as long as you hide them from everyone!

A pickle is not just a garnish

Fermented foods are delicious and very good for gut health. But one little-known benefit of fermented foods is their effect on food cravings. Eating some tangy sauerkraut, pickled carrots, or other fermented vegetables when a desire for sweets hits can actually counteract that craving. Of course, there are many other snackable foods that can also be healthful - dried meats like beef jerky made from grassfed beef, devilled eggs made from pastured eggs, crackers made from soaked or sprouted traditional grains, pâtés, fruits, and vegetables. Many of these delicious and nutritious foods can be made in advance, ready for snacktime. The key to successfully using these foods, instead of inflammatory junk food, is having them prepared before hunger pangs hit. And you might even be surprised when munching on these homemade treats leads to winning that bet with the bag of potato chips. 

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