Healthy Recipes for the Holidays
It is Holiday time, and the New Year is just around the corner! We know we all love the Holidays and the delicious food and recipes that come with this season! However, traditional holiday foods tend to be filled with sugar, unhealthy fats, and animal products. When faced with cancer, or even when wanting to prevent cancer or just protect and enhance your health, those are exactly the foods you want to stay away from!
So, should we totally avoid Holiday celebrations and family meals?
We don’t think so!
Because what this season is really about is gathering, sharing, and finding love and compassion toward ourselves and others. That involves sharing food with our loved ones and the ones in need and being able to also enjoy those foods!
So, we decided this Holiday we would like to share some healthy recipes with you. What better way to start than with a warm, sweet beverage?!
You are going to be impressed with our version of No Egg Nog!
Holiday No Egg Nog
The “No Egg Nog” is very simple to make and does not require many ingredients, it certainly does not require eggs 😊 The main ingredients are pecans, dates, and coconut milk! But what gives it that Holiday flavor are the spices: nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Preparing it is even easier! You just need to blend all the ingredients and adjust the flavors to your preferred taste.
We will explore in more detail some of the nutrition facts and health benefits of cinnamon, pecans, coconuts, and dates.
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum sp.)
Cinnamon is a sweet-flavored spice that has been used for centuries for its flavor, fragrance, and medicinal and culinary properties.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Cinnamon1,2
- This spice is known for its bioactive compounds, boosting with health benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-diabetic, among others.
- Highest antioxidant strength (calculated as ORAC – oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of all the food sources in nature! Many hundred times more than apples, for example.
- Contains flavonoid antioxidants carotenes, zeaxanthin, lutein, cryptoxanthin, and lycopene.
- Excellent source of minerals like manganese, iron, calcium, and copper. Both manganese and copper work as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
- Good levels of vitamin E, K, A, and Pyridoxine (B6).
- Cinnamon contains powerful essential oils:
- Eugenol (pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrance; local anesthetic and antiseptic properties)
- Cinnamaldehyde (anticoagulant – prevent blood clotting)
- Ethyl cinnamate
- Methyl chavicol
- Good for digestion and elimination, especially because it helps increase the secretion of gastrointestinal enzymes.
- Pecans (Carya illinoinensis)
Pecans are rich sources of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Pecans3,4
- Excellent source of vitamin E, especially rich in gamma-tocopherol (about 25 g per 100 grams of pecans), a vital antioxidant.
- Great source of plant phytochemicals with antioxidant action, such as the polyphenolic compound ellagic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent free radical damage.
- Ellagic acid has anti-proliferative properties: it inhibits the binding of carcinogens, such as nitrosamines and polycyclic hydrocarbons, to the DNA, protecting it from damage.
- Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) like oleic acid, contributing to a healthy blood lipid profile.
- Rich source of B-complex vitamins: thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), and folate (B-9), essential for macronutrient metabolism.
- Pecans are also a good source of minerals like manganese, copper, zinc, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and moderate sources of potassium, calcium, and selenium.
- Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
Coconuts are rich in saturated fats, and nutrients like vitamins and minerals and are a great source of energy. The kernel is the “coconut meat.”
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Coconuts5,6
- Coconuts are a great source of energy (354 calories per 100 grams of kernel), mostly from protein and fat.
- Most of the fat present in the coconut kernel, around 89%, is saturated fat. These fats are constituted largely by medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can be absorbed intact in the small intestine, and are an excellent source of energy.
- MCTs have many health benefits, including anticarcinogenic, antiviral, and antifungal effects10.
- The most relevant saturated fatty acid is lauric acid (1:12 carbon fatty acid). Lauric acid helps increase HDL cholesterol levels in the blood, considered the “good cholesterol,” and reduce LDL, “bad cholesterol,” contributing to healthy lipid profiles.
- Good source of B vitamins such as thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), and folate (B-9), required from food and essential for macronutrient metabolism.
- Excellent source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and magnesium.
- Coconut meat is a good source of potassium (356 mg per 100 grams of fresh meat; 7.5% RDA).
- Rich source of fiber (9 grams per 100 grams of fresh meat; 24% RDA). Most of this fiber is insoluble fiber, which means it is not digestible by the body but helps with bowel health.
The dates are from the palm tree Phoenix dactylifera. There are many varieties of date palm cultivars, and the ‘Medjool’ variety that we use in our recipe is one of the most popular in the USA for its quality, richness of flavors, and taste.
Dates contain beneficial phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, besides being deliciously and naturally sweet!
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Dates7,8,9,10
- Fresh dates are easily digestible, composed of simple sugars like fructose and dextrose, and rich in fiber. 100 g of Medjool dates are equivalent to about 277 calories.
- Contain polyphenolic biomolecules, namely the antioxidant flavonoids tannins. Tannins exhibit anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and anti-microbial properties, among other beneficial physiological effects.
- Other antioxidant flavonoids are present, such as ß-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These may protect against the harmful effects of free radicals and against certain cancers.
- Excellent source of iron (about 0.90 mg per 100 grams; 11% of RDA). Iron is vital for health by participating in a wide variety of metabolic processes, including oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and electron transport.
- Very good source of potassium (696 mg per 100 grams; 16% RDA). Potassium is an important in major biological processes, such as muscle contraction, nerve impulses, synthesis of nucleic acids and protein and energy production.
- Rich in other minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium.
- Modest source of vitamin-A (approximately 149 IU per 100 grams; 5% of RDA), with antioxidant properties and other important biological functions.
- Contains good levels of some B-vitamins, including riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6) and vitamin-K.
Check your pantry for these incredible ingredients, do some grocery shopping if needed, and get ready to impress everyone with this flavorful Holiday No Egg Nog!
Here is the full recipe for the warming No Egg Nog!
- Makes: 3-4 servings Prep time: 3 minutes • Total time: 5 minutes
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted
- ¾ cup pecans
- 2-3 cups of water
- 1 can of organic coconut milk or 1 cup of homemade coconut milk
- Vanilla extract (optional)
Blend everything together in your high-speed blender.
Coconut milk is optional but recommended. If you don’t use the coconut milk, just make up for it by adding ¼ cup more pecans and 1 cup more water.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Spices, cinnamon, ground. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171320/nutrients, accessed Dec 22, 2022.
- Nutrition and You. Cinnamon Spice Nutrition Facts. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cinnamon-spice.html, accessed Dec 22, 2022.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Nuts, pecans. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170182/nutrients, accessed Dec 20, 2022.
- Nutrition and You. Pecans Nutrition Facts. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pecans.html, accessed Dec 20, 2022.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Nuts, coconut meat, raw. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170169/nutrients, accessed Jul 28, 2022.
- Nutrition and You. Coconut Nutrition Facts. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/coconut.html, accessed Jul 28, 2022.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Dates, medjool. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168191/nutrients, accessed Jun 20, 2022.
- Nutrition and You. Dates Nutrition Facts. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dates.html, accessed Jun 20, 2022.
- Chung KT, Wong TY, Wei CI, Huang YW, Lin Y. Tannins and human health: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1998 Aug;38(6):421-64. doi: 10.1080/10408699891274273. PMID: 9759559.
- Lieu PT, Heiskala M, Peterson PA, Yang Y. The roles of iron in health and disease. Mol Aspects Med. 2001 Feb-Apr;22(1-2):1-87. doi: 10.1016/s0098-2997(00)00006-6. PMID: 11207374.
Vanessa Pinto graduated with a degree in Biology and Masters in Ecology from Lisbon University. After graduating, she underwent a series of professional and personal growth experiences, including being an officer in the Portuguese Army, working in countries as diverse as Iceland and Costa Rica. Vanessa became certified as a Yoga and Meditation teacher in rural India.
Being a compassionate person by nature, Vanessa is able to bring her connectedness when working with others while enhancing the importance and practicality of a pragmatic evidence-based approach to facilitating lasting and permanent change. Vanessa is a certified health coach whose specialties are nutrition, exercise, and mind/ body connection. She works both in Portugal, Thailand and USA, where she develops her work closely with people diagnosed with cancer, mainly in the areas of nutrition, movement and health education.