Everyday Gourmet12/11/08

Just say no to jelly belly

Dec. 11, 2008

By Kim Dannies

Would you like to forego that “bowl full of jelly” feeling come Hanukah-Christmas-Kwanza morning? Then don’t succumb to the seasonal eating mentality of “to hell with it, I’ll start after the holidays.” Now is the time to recommit to healthy lifestyle choices, even as we fa-la-la-la our way through the kitchen spreading joy and peanut brittle. This means regular cardio and core exercise, lots of water and whole foods rich in nutrients and low in fat and sugar. (A nap-for–no-reason is also a good idea.)

I’m no food-Scrooge and plan to indulge at parties, but making mindful choices to balance each day is the best present I can give myself, and my family. For a quick and healthy meal, nothing beats freshly toasted quesadillas on Joseph’s flax and oat bran tortillas; load them with black beans, brown rice, lots of wilted fresh spinach and a bit of cheese or lean protein. I also love the Fage brand of Greek-style yogurt. The 0 percent fat container is 8 ounces and 90 calories of dreamy cream and it’s readily available at supermarkets. The mouth-feel is so rich I can eat one for lunch and feel completely satisfied (unlike other yogurts that leave me feeling like I just got a lump of coal in my stocking.) The yogurt is delicious on a baked sweet potato with steamed broccoli, or as a topping for fresh fruit.    

Planning ahead for hunger pains is a huge factor in making smart choices. I always keep a small bag of trail mix in my car, along with Minneola’s or grapes, and cans of V-8 juice and water. These items come in really handy when I’m busy running errands and need a quick fix. One of my most successful seasonal tricks is a spicy vegan cookie that is loaded with the good stuff, yet tastes like a holiday treat. Try one with a steaming mug of coffee to super-fuel your mornings or late afternoons — it’s the essence of guilt-free luxury. I want to wish all of my wonderful readers good luck with their holiday preparations, enjoy every moment of this precious season. And each time you belly laugh with joy — may it be with abs of steel.

Vegan spice cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a prep bowl stir together well: 3 cups of canned pumpkin; 1/2 cup of canola oil; 2 cups trail mix or granola; 2 cups ground flax seed; 2 cups of rolled oats; 1/3 cup molasses; 1 cup brown sugar; 2 teaspoons baking soda; 2 teaspoons vanilla; 1 teaspoon, each, of ground cinnamon and cloves; and a large pinch of salt. Stir in 4 cups of King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour; do not over mix. Drop generous spoonfuls of dough onto 4 parchment covered cookie sheets. (Recipe makes 24 cookies that are about 2.5 inches across.) Bake 16 minutes.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.