The holidays make it extra hard to follow any sort of diet outside the norm. I want to keep my kids feeling good so they can actually enjoy all the extra activity and family time, but I also don’t want to tell them, “No, sorry, you can’t have that either” a thousand times a day. And the people who are offering us cookies and hot chocolate and candy and bread and all other manner of foods and treats that are restricted by our food intolerances aren’t doing it to be cheeky, which makes me feel bad a second time because by saying “no thanks” I’m thwarting their genuine efforts at sharing love and cheer. Add to that the fact that so many of our favorite holiday moments and memories are wrapped up in the actual production of said treats, and the whole situation can just be a downright bummer.
But eating real food doesn’t have to be boring. It just takes creativity and a little effort. Case in point: Real Food Snowman Cupcakes to rival the sugared boxed version.
My two daughters and I joined Grandma for a cooking class at a local grocery store yesterday. The recipes were obviously geared toward what your average American family might pick up at that grocery store: packaged slice-and-bake cookies, cupcakes from a box with frosting from a tub, soup with stock from a carton, sandwiches with deli meat and cheese. To their credit, there were quite a few fresh vegetables involved, and the fun time with Grandma certainly meant the class wasn’t a waste of time. Our little group was in charge of the Snowmen Cupcakes, and I have to be honest: I wasn’t that excited that my girls each got to take home TWO. And of course when my son saw them, he wanted Snowman Cupcakes as well, but while we can cheat with the girls with minor consequences, one of those cupcakes would put my little man out of commission for a couple days. So he and I had our own little cooking class at home this morning and he helped me make a real-food-approved version.
The original cupcakes consisted of:
- Chocolate cupcakes from a box (made with vegetable oil, water, and eggs)
- Chocolate frosting from a tub
- White sugar sprinkles
- Glazed donut holes dipped in melted white chocolate (with shortening) for the head
- Mini chocolate chips for the eyes, a piece of orange chewy candy for the nose, and a red licorice whip strand for the scarf.
Our real food version consisted of:
- Chocolate coconut flour cupcakes sweetened with honey
- Chocolate buttercream frosting sweetened with honey (and using all butter instead of shortening), sprinkled with unsweetened shredded coconut
- A fudge baby for the head, rolled in unsweetened shredded coconut
- Tiny hunks of unsweetened chocolate for the eyes, a piece of dried mango for the nose, and a slice of apple skin for the scarf
We had a great time figuring out what we could use for the embellishments (and I’m sure there are lots more options but we were working with what I had on hand), and my son is more than pleased with the outcome. They’re not identical, of course, but I might even like the look of our real food version better (I kind of think the originals look a little more like baby owls than snowmen).
If you’re trying to stick to real food this holiday season, just remember that the processed food industry with sugar on top of sugar and chemical colorings doesn’t have to have the monopoly on delicious, fun holiday treats and the memories that go along with them.