With holiday baking going on at a feverish pitch, and tins of sweets from many different cultures and traditions being delivered to homes in the spirit of giving and good will, sugar consumption dramatically skyrockets, along with blood glucose levels with damaging effects of inflammation taxing your liver, pancreas (spiking insulin), kidneys and immune system. Even brain chemistry is thrown out of balance with a rush of sugar disturbing the levels of brain neurotransmitters that regulate cravings and dependency behavior.
With all of these ill effects and the inevitable complaint of weight gain, along with repeated broken promises of dieting in the New Year, I decided to begin a healthy holiday baking exploration this holiday season.
Having just returned from the fall harvest in Tibet, my good friend, Bruce McMullin, a maker of seabuckthorn products, sent me several bottles of the raw juice of Tibetan seabuckthorn, one of the richest natural plants on the planet. Having already introduced seabuckthorn on The Dr. Oz Show this past February and because of its tremendous nutritional content and corresponding benefits to systemic health, I immediately considered seabuckthorn a worthy contender in my search for the "Holy Grail" of healthy holiday baking ingredients.
To work on the seabuckthorn recipes and baking, I called upon the help of another friend, a terrific baker and fitness trainer in the Hamptons, Anke Adler Cosich. Anke has already built a reputation as the "Fit Baker" and I've been hooked on her low-glycemic treats, especially her amazing granola, and chocolate oatmeal cookies. I began informing her of the nutritional wonders of seabuckthorn and she remembered her grandmother touting the health benefits of seabuckthorn back in Germany when she was a young girl.
Chockfull of antioxidants, Vitamin C, E and A, carotinoids, flavonoids and especially the powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients omega-3, -6 and -7, Anke went to work on recipes for cookies, "power squares" and holiday breads with seabuckthorn that were terrific.
Utilizing low-glycemic formulas and avoiding refined white sugar and flour, Anke came through with some super healthy and super tasty treats. Incorporating both seabuckthorn juice and seabuckthorn oil, Anke created an orange/cranberry bread (seabuckthorn actually has tart, orange and apricot flavors), delicious seabuckthorn cookies with a dark chocolate icing, and my favorite, "power squares" with oats, fruit and seabuckthorn icing. The best part is that these holiday treats have the inflammation-busting, ph-balancing, and vitamin-boosting power that does not promote unhealthy weight gain (there's still calories though) and tooth decay associated with most high-glycemic holiday baked goods.
Hats off to Anke who came through on my healthy holiday baking mission. I wish you all a New Year full of great healthy smiles and positive resolutions!