It’s the season for peppermint lattes, stacked-high pumpkin flavored ice cream sundaes, and endless types of gingerbread cookies and treats. While it may be comforting to grab a cup of hot cocoa while watching the snowfall, or munch on the seasonally exclusive pumpkin bread at your favorite neighborhood bakery, be aare of certain ingredients that could be unfavorable to your health down the road.
Many store-bought baked goods, like cinnamon swirl bread, pumpkin bread, or peppermint flavored lattes could be extremely unhealthy. Store-bought baked goods such as pumpkin breads, peppermint brownies, cookies, muffins, tarts, and pastries could most likely come along with hydrogenated oils, genetically engineered oils such as soybean or canola, or even margarine and artificial spreads. These oils are of the worst for your health, and have been linked to increased cardiovascular conditions, blood sugar imbalance, food intolerance, infertility, cancer, and more. It’s best to stick to fats and oils from whole and natural sources, like organic grass-fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or virgin coconut oil. Furthermore, the majority of these treats include high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, refined sugar, or artificial sweeteners- which have very negative effects on your health. Artificial sweeteners may be marketed as a healthier alternative, as they contain no sugar. Essentially, though, many of them have been linked to brain tumors, weight gain, digestive troubles, and many other conditions. These unhealthy sweeteners spike your blood sugar levels, imbalance your hormones, and in fact, diminish your energy levels- leaving you to crash during the day. It’s highly recommend that you stick with natural sweeteners, such as organic raw honey, organic maple syrup, organic coconut palm sugar, or organic brown sugar. I’d advise that you don’t bake with raw honey, as you destroy some of the antimicrobial properties from enzymes, as well as many other organic compounds.
Making homemade baked goods makes you aware of what ingredients you are consuming; and allows you to enjoy the seasonal delight just the same- if not more. Try this extremely easy brownie recipe, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the winter season without losing your energy, or dealing with sugar crashes. If you’re not a huge fan of peppermint, try making these brownies while omitting the peppermint extract, and top them with chopped walnuts or pecans. Moreover, if you are obsessed with anything pumpkin, I’ll share a delectable treat you can attempt to make at home.
1/3 cup organic grass-fed butter or coconut oil
1 organic pasture-raised egg, and 1 egg yolk
½ cup organic dark chocolate chunks
½ cup unsweetened organic raw dark cocoa (carob works well too)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup almond flour
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
4 tablespoons organic coconut palm sugar
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and dark chocolate chunks on low heat until smooth and creamy.
Stir in the egg, egg yolk, peppermint extract, and applesauce.
In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, almond flour, pink salt, and coconut palm sugar.
Stir in the wet ingredients; mix until well incorporated.
Pour into the baking pan, and spread into an even layer. Top with the macadamia nuts- if you are including them.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the brownies are set. Allow them to cool completely before cutting or serving.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.