Your Holistic Holiday Serving Guide

Any and all yoga poses while lying on our stomachs were strictly off-limits Sunday night!

holistic entertaining

  • It was our Christmas party open house stuffed with festive appetizers, tables of decadent home-baked desserts, and rooms overflowing with family and friends and friends of friends. We have been hosting the party for years but as my lifestyle has evolved, the menu has been revamped a little too. There is now a designated “Suzanne’s section” on the savoury table which was enjoyed by all!  I was even visited by one guest at work on Monday in search of the gluten-free crackers and creamy cranberry orange nut-based “cheeses” that were served. You can bet I was all too happy to stock up her grocery bag!

To navigate this season’s festive Christmas buffet tables abundant with cheeses, breads and cakes is no small feat, but it gets a little easier as a hostess when you have control over what’s served. For all of the upcoming parties you are hosting this season, these are some tips to make it festively healthy and equally indulgent. We want our guests to eat well and leave feeling amazing!

serving guide

Savoury

Cheeses

  • Cheese is one of our biggest culprits for post dinner bloat, indigestion and lethargy. It is particularly difficult to digest when paired with the concentrated starches of bread which utilizes different enzymes and acidic environments in the stomach than does the animal protein of cheese.
What I served:
  • I set out a selection of nut based cheeses created from a blend of creamy cashews, herbs and spices. These came in a pub style cheese with turmeric, a herb and garlic “cream cheese” and the favourite flavour of festive cranberry orange.
  • You can make your own but I used the ones from Boo Moo nut cheese company found at our local health food store, The Peanut Mill. With no preservatives, they are fresh, light, whole food based, soy-free and decadently creamy!

desserts

Veggies & Dip

  • These fibre rich snacks are staples at our party tables. This year’s veggie platter showcased cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, classic carrots and celery sticks.
  • Eat the vegetables first to gain their beneficial enzymes to help digest the rest of your meal with fibre to help fill you up on nutrient dense food. Aim for 50% of your plate to be vegetable based at all times. But not so fast! The health benefits of veggies can instantly be compromised with what we dip them into…

What I served:

  • Babaghanouj (roasted eggplant dip) and a red lentil hummus with roasted red peppers and basil pesto. Both were based with tahini (ground sesame seeds) instead of sour cream and were free of artificial preservatives, colours or flavours.

Holistic Life Hacks: look to the ingredient labels first. Aim for fewer ingredients with the most recognizable, whole food ingredients you can find.

Breads & Crackers

What I served:

  • We arranged a  platter of thinly sliced chia baguettes (preservative free), small pieces of poppy-seed bagels, Mary’s seed crackers and rice crackers. All gluten-free, dairy free and soy free. Though breads are more of a gamble, your guests will hardly know that you are serving gluten-free crackers and will feel infinately better for it.

festive

Crunchy Chips

What I served:

  • To satisfy our desire for something crunchy without the oily, fried and processed chips? Trail mix! This one is so festive looking, the moment I saw it in our store I knew it would have to adorn our dinning table. (That is, once I took a closer look and discovered it was food and not a pretty potpourri.)
  • This one has zero added salt, sugar or preservatives (except for a little dark chocolate) and is made with chunky coconut flakes, crunchy raw almonds, green pepitas (pumpkin seeds), red gogi berries and those little chocolate chips for a little sweetness.
  • All fats in this snack are raw (not fried or baked) to preserve their beneficial properties and are not oxidized so long as they are stored in the freezer.

double chocolate

Sweets

As you can imagine, our kitchen has been a whirlwind of nuts and coconut, peppermint and chocolate. We’ve had cakes in the garage, freezers overflowing with truffles and a cold cellar with tins of shortbread and cookies, fruit cake and peppermint patties.

I have never had too much of a sweet tooth, though I do love a treat now and again, but I did make a dessert! Can you guess which one? It features raw cacao packed with minerals and antioxidants, coconut for blood sugar stabalizing fats (to counteract the sweets), and festive dried cranberries. As my mother put it: “These are amazing and there is nothing in them!”  If I wasn’t able to make this as dessert for a function, I don’t know what I’d do!

sweets

What I served:

  • Raw cranberry chocolate macaroons made “double chocolate” as I accidentally dumped in extra cacao. But really, could there ever be too much chocolate? 😉

RECIPE: https://lifeofeden.com/2014/07/11/raw-cranberry-chocolate-macaroons/

Beverages

Pop/Beer/Juice

What I served:

  • Kombuchas instead of pop. These are naturally fizzy fermented teas that, when flavoured in the second fermentation process, resemble the taste of pop. Yet most are virtually sugar free, are a natural source of whole-food probiotics for gut health and come in a variety of flavours. I had the GT grape flavour as the daring pairing to my white party dress.
  • For my grandmother, I bought a case of Zevia, the stevia sweetened cola that she loves and is a much healthier alternative to regular colas with zero artificial caramel colouring.
  • Note: though decaffeinated Colas are often worse for us than the standard colas (due to the process used to extract the caffeine), Zevia colas are naturally uncaffeinated, and the caffeine has to be added into the caffeinated version making the decaf version the best choice!

savoury table

Juice

  • I had frozen a jug of 100% pure, raw, unpasteurized apple cider from my grandparents’ apple trees and thawed it to serve at the party.

The best part about co-hosting is not in having control over what I eat, but in giving our guests all of the healthy and delicious options they could possibly desire! While enjoying cheeses and cakes and other goodies, they were also savouring nut cheeses, vegetable platters and raw macaroons. And who knows, your guests may leave so energised, you might just be joined in that late night yoga class (minus the backbends)!

With a “taste” of our festive feasts,

Suzanne Eden

Twas the Night Before Christmas // Festive Cranberry Pistachio Fudge

fudge

With Christmas festivities just around the corner, I’ve been busy in the kitchen in swirls of chocolate, sticky with dates and adorned in a Santa apron to bring you a very special treat. Before navigating my way to health, my specialty at our annual Christmas buffet was a fudge that took 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to make. And though smooth and rich and delightful, it was a decadent swirl of insulin spiking sugar & bodily congesting dairy, straight from a BPA laden can.

Naturally, I had to revamp this recipe and created a healthy version! One that not only takes minimal time and effort to make, but is made with only the BEST ingredients and one you would never know is secretly good for you! (In moderation of course). And ahhh, this effortless fudge delivers and is sure to be an annual staple at your holiday treat table!
What’s more: 
  • It is rich in healthy fats which signal fullness and satisfaction to the brain so that you will feel satisfied after only a few sweets
  • It is sweetened with dates: a whole food with natural fibre to reduce blood sugar spikes.
  • Raw cacao is the less processed form of cocoa and therefore retains the most nutrients found in only your highest quality dark chocolate! Among them:
    • Antioxidants
    • Magnesium
    • Iron
    • Potassium
    • Calcium
      • Bonus: since it is raw, we are not losing any of these beautifying nutrients as we would if cooking with it.
  • This fudge is:
    • Dairy free
    • Gluten free
    • Soy free
    • Refined sugar-free
    • Raw
Top Notch Ingredients: 
Here’s what to look for: 
  • Medjool dates should be soft and moist! This is critical in this recipe that is raw and needs a smooth, rich base.
  • Raw cacao can be found at a health food store and sometimes in your local grocery store in the organic section, although I always like to support small local stores whenever possible. My favourite is quality sourced Giddy Yoyo.
  • Pistachios: look for unsalted and raw.
  • Cranberries: look for sulphate and soybean oil free
  • Coconut oil: Virgin, unrefined, organic and in a glass container if possible
Festive Cranberry Pistachio Fudge
Ingredients
  • 1 C Medjool Dates
  • 3-4 tsp Coconut milk
  • 1/4 C Nut Butter (I used the mix of cashew and almond)
  • 1/2 C + 2 TBSP Raw cacao
  • 1 tsp Alcohol free vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 C Dried cranberries
  • 1/4 C Pistachios
How I make it
(Please read through the instructions first, especially the note at the bottom)
  1. Blend dates with coconut milk until smooth.
  2. Add nut butter, cacao, vanilla, salt and cinnamon and blend to desired consistency. Do not blend on high if you have a powerful blender as this could cause you to heat the mixture and the cacao to curdle. The mixture should be smooth and silky but still hold firmly.
  3. Stir in your cranberries and pistachios.
  4. Pour into a small pan lined with parchment (the size depends on how thick you want the slices of fudge to be)
  5. Pop into the fridge at least 1 hour to set before serving
Notes:
  • Now there is one issue I’ve had; sometimes the milk separates from the mixture, however it is necessary for getting that smooth, fudgy texture. So if this happens to you, don’t freak out. Simply remove the excess with a spoon and you should be just fine! Being a raw dessert, it leaves a lot of room for playing around, so don’t be discouraged. Once in the fridge, it has always worked out!
  • I used a mortor and pestle to crush some pistachios to garnish the top.
  • Holistic life hacks:
    • Whenever baking, especially with something as gooey and tempting as this fudge, it can be easy to get carried away taste testing. You have to be sure it’s juuust right, right? But here’s my trick to avoid going overboard on your bowl licking skills: keep a healthy treat at hand. Mine is a kombucha, a fermented probiotic tea with ginger. Refreshing, balancing and satisfying.
I can’t get enough of this fudge and your guests won’t be able to either! Rich, decadent and sneakily healthy, you can enjoy all of the indulgences of Christmas and still feel energized and light at the end of the night,
Wishing you a sweet, gooey, chocolatey Christmas Eve,
Suzanne Eden

Superfood Cranberry Chocolate Macaroons

Ever wonder what to make to delight the taste buds of the shamelessly picky eaters and health nuts alike? This, right here, is your fix!  I have made this treat for just about every occasion this year from house parties to Christmas gatherings and they are always an instant hit. The best part? They take about 15minutes to make, have minimal ingredients, require zero baking, and have some superfood benefits! What originally began as Kimberly Snyder’s recipe from her book became a smash hit with my friends and family alike and lead me to create my own spin and thus: the delectable cranberry chocolate macaroon was born!

raw macaroons
Just yesterday I demoed these treats for a class of fellow holistic-practitioners-in-the-making and for Joy McCarthy from http://www.joyoushealth.ca/. Today I brought another batch to share with the rest of campus which were gone in a chocolatey flash and received requests for more. So I will once again be getting chocolate covered in my kitchen with more macaroon making to share this upcoming week!
These are:
  • Dairy free
  • Soy free
  • Refined sugar free
  • Flour free
  • Gluten and wheat free
  • Nut free
  • Egg free
  • Pretty much anything but sheer goodness free!
Your quick guide to super packing these bites with nutrition:
  • Raw cacao is less processed than cocoa, high in antioxidants for anti-aging, and has energizing and mood enhancing effects.
  • Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory, stabilizes blood sugar and boosts brain function! This is my secret ingredient for anything chocolate to enhance and add depth to the rich flavours.
  • Maple syrup – may I take a moment to redirect you to my article on the 8 facts about maple syrup that make it just plain sweet, here: https://lifeofeden.com/2014/07/02/8-facts-about-maple-syrup-that-make-it-just-plain-sweet/
    But as wonderful as it is, please remember that this is also a treat and not an everyday staple and that  buying real, high quality syrup is the only way to go to reap its beneficial properties.
  • Vanilla – If opting for the vanilla extract, look for one that is organic and alcohol free.
  • Himalayan salt can be replaced with a high quality sea salt. I like Himalayan because it adds depth to the rich flavours of the macaroon.
  • Dried cranberries and coconut – for both of these you want to be aware of what is in them. Sneaky things such as sulfites and unwanted oils or soy may find their way in, so be sure to check the labels.

 

Warning: Though a raw macaroon may make a room full of nutritionists swoon, those not so nutrition savvy may be high tailing it in the opposite direction. I am constantly reminded of this by the look on my families face when I say that I’ve made something “healthy”! They are not quite so enthusiastic, sporting an expression that says they think I’ve made a macaroon from kale and sauerkraut rather than chocolatey goodness. The trick ? Think as though you’re mischievously sneaking brussels sprouts into your child’s dinner and omit the fact that they are relatively healthy until after your guests are gushing for more. They would never know 😉
Ingredients:
Dry:

  • 2 Cups coconut flakes
  • ½ Cup Raw cacao powder
  • 1/8 tsp Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp Powdered stevia
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon

Wet:

  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • ½ Cup Maple syrup
  • 1/3 Cup Dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  2. Add in wet ingredients and stir until fully combined. Add the dried cranberries in last.
  3. Scoop into small, macaroon sized balls and place on parchment, putting them in the freezer for at least 3-4 hours before serving or in the fridge overnight.
  • Best served the next day but can be stored in the fridge after that.

So there you have it! I am so excited for you to give these a try and, if you’re anything like me in the kitchen; become a sweet, gooey, chocolate covered macaroon making machine from here on out!

Suzanne Eden