Nutrition: Sugar Free Thanksgiving, by Pranada Devi
As the weather cools off, the days shorten and the wool socks come out, the Vata energy of this time of year can lead to intensified carbohydrate cravings. It is natural and healthy to eat more grounding foods at this time of the year, and the root vegetables that ripen with the first frosts and star on most Thanksgiving dinner tables can be naturally grounding. But for those who are healthiest with minimal carb intake, myself included, those root vegetables can pack a sugary punch!
My ideal Thanksgiving or holiday dinner used to be a turkey, mashed potatoes, turnips, carrots, bread stuffing, gobs of gravy, sugary cranberry relish, pickled beets, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, and a wine glass filled with half ginger ale and half cranberry cocktail. The vegetables were delicious, homegrown and organic, but what a carb fest! I didn’t need anything stronger than what I had in my wine glass – I was cruising on my sugar addiction (and so were the Candida bacteria in my gut).
But you can make the feast over without the hit to your blood sugar levels. Today, my ideal holiday dinner looks more like an organic turkey with wild rice and quinoa stuffing, steamed kale or chard, Brussels sprouts and a dab of stevia-sweetened cranberry relish. For a splurge, I could do a stevia-sweetened ginger ale like Zevia. If not, I can simply enjoy some water with a squeeze of fresh lemon. To make gravy, consider amaranth, millet or chickpea flour, possibly blended with a little arrowroot starch if you need more thickening. Remember that you can simply grind amaranth or millet in a spice grinder or blender, so you don’t need to go buy amaranth flour!
By all means, those who wish a meatless feast can enjoy a tofu or nut roast, or even a savory chickpea dish. (I don’t recommend seitan-based meat alternatives, as wheat seems to be problematic for many people.) There are ample resources on the Internet for vegetarian Thanksgiving dinners. This article is aimed at those who wish a Thanksgiving dinner without extra carbs and sugars, regardless of their stance on meat.
But what to do for dessert when all around you it seems like everyone is splurging on sweet spiced treats? That’s where this month’s recipe comes in. Simple and quick to make, this grain-free, sugar-free, low carb and vegan treat can even be made raw. I made it when craving a chunk of the gingerbread my late grandmother used to make.
Pecan Gingerbread Fudge
If your room temperature is warm, you can likely stir this recipe together by hand. If your room is cool and your coconut butter is solid, you may need a food processor.
Stir or blend together until thoroughly combined with no lumps:
1 cup coconut butter
1 ¼ cups almond butter
1 tsp each of ground ginger and ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 dropperfuls caramel flavoured liquid stevia and 1 dropperful unflavoured liquid stevia (Note that since stevia preparations vary, you should adjust these proportions to your own taste with the brand you are using. I usually use Nature’s Way Organic stevia drops, which do an excellent job of adding flavour and sweetness without the bitter edge of some stevia preparations.)
Stir in ⅔ cup chopped pecans.
Pour into a six-inch square container and refrigerate for half an hour. Optionally, press pecan halves gently into the top of the mixture. Return to refrigerator and chill for three hours or freeze for 30 minutes. Using a knife dipped in hot water, slice into squares. Serve chilled, as this rich dessert will melt at room temperature.
Makes about 12 servings.
For a completely raw dessert, use raw pecans and raw nut butters. I have opted to use roasted almond butter when I prepare this recipe, partly because as we transition into cooler weather we do not need to have quite so high a degree of raw foods, and partly because the roasted almonds give a richer, more gingerbread-esque flavour.
Nature’s Way also makes a pumpkin spice flavoured stevia with which which you could experiment.
Pranada Devi has read up on nutrition and wellness since 2000. She has worked as a baker in an organic deli, helped to cater a vegan wedding, and given talks in two languages on the ecological impact of dietary choices. She quit eating sugar in 2014 and caffeine in 2015 and, when her busy schedule as a communications advisor permits, she enjoys developing natural sugar-free recipes.