6 all-natural bites and sips for healthier, slimmer holidays (As Seen on NOLA.com)
I love finding new convenience products that add variety to a natural and nutrient-dense diet, and even better when they can be incorporated into holiday fare. (Find more of my “Spotted on Shelves” columns here.)
Here are six of my latest finds for all-natural food and drink to help make the holiday season a notch healthier and friendlier to the waistline.
Each of the product websites has a locator feature to help find it in your area; some are only available online. As always, if you don’t see an item in your local grocery or health food store, you can always ask the store manager to stock it.
If you read my column often, you know I’m a huge advocate of apple cider vinegar, for a variety of reasons: better blood sugar control and cardiovascular health (apple cider vinegar has been shown to improve glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels), as well as its potential alkalizing effect, helping to buffer the acidity that can naturally occur from diet and exercise. Added bonus: Apple cider vinegar is a natural diuretic that can help to relieve potential holiday bloat.
But i realize it’s an acquired taste, to say the least.
So, I was super excited to run across this apple cider vinegar by Genesis Today. If you’ve tried apple cider vinegar but just couldn’t do it – or struggled to incorporate it daily – you’ve got to try this version; it’s much more palatable than plain old apple cider vinegar.
Genesis Today’s apple cider vinegar contains cinnamon bark powder and yacon syrup (a low-glycemic sweetener that adds just 2 grams of carbs per serving), which help the flavor, tremendously. A 1-ounce serving also contains 200 mg of gymnema sylvestre, which can help to further improve blood sugar levels.
Incorporate 1 to 2 ounces daily, ideally before meals, as part of your usual routine.
The Genesis Today apple cider vinegar can be consumed undiluted. I don’t recommend drinking regular apple cider vinegar undiluted because the acidity can damage tooth enamel and the lining of the esophagus. Instead, dilute unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 4 to 6 ounces warm or hot water.
One of my favorite go-to recipes for myself and clients is chicken salad, made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. And while it’s certainly not hard to make, many of us just don’t take the time to make it, especially during the bustle of the holidays. Enter these little single-serving snack cups from GoodFoods, available at Costco. With just 140 calories and 14 grams of protein, they’re lower in calories than most protein bars. And the ingredient list is comprised of stuff we might have in our own kitchens, including grilled chicken, Greek yogurt, celery, onions, dried cranberries and almonds.
Per 4-ounce cup: 140 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams sugar (mostly from cranberries and Greek yogurt), 14 grams protein.
With only four calories and 1 gram of carb and sugar per serving, this festive Peppermint Mocha CoolBrew has a simple ingredient list of just water, coffee, chicory, and natural chocolate and mint flavoring.
Use it to make your own no-sugar-added Peppermint Mocha Latte, hot or iced: Add 1 ounce of coffee concentrate to a cup of hot or cold water, milk or unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Stir in a scoop of protein powder and blend for a frozen peppermint mocha frappe. Freeze it into ice cubes to add to iced coffee or a smoothie.
Get it while you can, this limited-edition variety of CoolBrew is only available through Feb. 1.
There are countless versions of recipes for cauliflower pizza “crust” online – but nearly all of the options in stores are made with a blend of rice flour and cauliflower. Not Outer Aisle. This frozen pizza crust, developed by New Orleans native Jeanne Foley David, is made with just simple ingredients, including cauliflower, eggs, parmesan, herbs and spices.
Sold as 8-inch pizza crust or smaller sandwich thins, these cauliflower crusts can also be cut and pressed into muffin tins to serve as a “crust” for savory bite-sized holiday treats, layered as lasagna, or sliced and served as cheesy garlic bread sticks.
Find Outer Aisle products locally in the freezer case at Whole Foods Market, Langenstein’s and Breaux Mart.
Nutrition facts per full 8-inch crust: 100 calories, 6 grams fat, 2.5 grams sat fat, 240 mg sodium, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams sugar, 9 grams protein
Vegan, soy-free and dairy-free, Vanilla Chai RAW Protein Powder is a convenient source of complete protein from a variety of raw, organic sprouted grains and seeds. The carbs are low, with just 2 grams of carbs per 110-calorie scoop, packing in 22 grams of protein. And the chai-spice-vanilla blend is fitting for winter smoothies or adding a boost of protein to creamy soups, oatmeal or yogurt.
It’s relatively easy to give sweets and treats a healthy makeover, using ingredient swaps like almond flour and coconut flour in place of white flour, or to reduce the calories with natural plant-based sweeteners like Swerve or Truvia in place of sugar. But color often gets overlooked, and these better-for-you treats are often still laced with fake colors like red 40, yellow 5 and 6, and blue 1 and 2, artificial food dyes that have been linked to negative health effects ranging from cancer to allergy-like reactions.
There aren’t a ton of options for natural food coloring on shelves – India Tree natural food coloring drops is one of the few brands available locally, found at Whole Foods Market.
So, I was happy to see this relatively new line of vibrant, all-natural food colorings and sprinkles, colored with plant-based ingredients like spirulina, turmeric, and beet powder. These color packets make it easy to add vivid color to holiday baked goods, or add a fun burst of color to everyday healthful dishes for kids, like oatmeal, yogurt, or sandwich spreads.
And while Color Kitchen hasn’t reached the stores in the New Orleans area, the natural food colorings are available at ColorKitchen.com.
Editor’s note: Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is paid to recommend items.