This weekend I am planning on making the bread pudding recipe on the new Milk Calendar. The following is some information on healthy food options and the release includes a recipe for chocolate bread pudding.
Make Popular Holiday Foods Healthier
T’is the season to eat, but that’s no reason to be unhealthy during the holidays. In fact, most traditional holiday foods can be made healthier with smarter ingredient choices without compromising taste.
That’s the message of leading Canadian registered dietitian Rosie Schwartz, who says there are simple ways around weight gain and sluggishness typically associated with the holiday season. Schwartz offers these tips as a recipe for success for healthier holiday fare:
Lighten up: Instead of cakey desserts and pastries, try an alternative like antioxidant-rich chocolate bread pudding. Made with whole wheat bread, unsweetened cocoa and soy beverage, chocolate bread pudding is a sweet and satisfying finish to any meal, containing a fraction of the calories and significantly greater health benefits than most decadent delights. For added nutritional value, use Dempster’s Smart 100% Whole Grain Wheat bread (www.dempsters-smart.ca) and soy beverages like So Good Omega DHA (www.sogoodbeverage.com) and Silk Plus (www.drinksilk.ca). All of these brands are made with life’sDHA, a vegetarian source of DHA omega-3, which has been proven to provide brain, eye and heart health benefits throughout life.
Hot cocoa with a twist: As a delicious alternative to eggnog, try serving a rum-infused hot chocolate drink. Combine a little soy beverage with sugar and unsweetened cocoa to make a paste, and heat it together with dark rum, vanilla and chopped bittersweet chocolate to create a taste sensation that will keep your guests coming back for more.
Healthy chocolate: Chocolates may be a holiday favorite, but realize that not all chocolate is created equal. Choose dark chocolate – recently shown to contain antioxidants – whenever possible, particularly brands with a minimum cocoa content of 70 per cent. Better yet, there’s a new product on the market that makes dark chocolate even healthier. Bija® Udo’s Choice® Omega Truffles (www.florahealth.com) are infused with omega-3 (including vegetarian DHA), omega 6, 70 per cent cocoa and 99 per cent organic ingredients, making them a delicious, yet nutritious treat.
Eggless eggnog: A holiday favorite, eggnog – usually made with large amounts of raw eggs and heavy cream – can be made healthier by substituting these two ingredients with a soy beverage and vanilla pudding. For added nutritional value, use low fat pudding and an omega-3 fortified soy beverage, then spice it up with grated nutmeg.
Gobble turkey: Turkey is a good holiday choice, especially when cooked properly. For maximum health, place a wire rack in the roasting pan and add about a quarter inch of water, so that the fat of the turkey drips off the bird into the liquid below. When fully cooked, dispose of the liquid and baste the turkey with white wine, rather than its own fat. For a more nourishing stuffing, use healthier breads that are 100 per cent whole grain.
Be smart about essential nutrients: To ensure you’re getting sufficient nutrients in your diet, be sure to go for a variety of tasty choices containing key nutrients and talk to your doctor about taking certain supplements. In winter months, for example, Canadians are known to lack vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium, promotes strong bones and may play a role in preventing diseases such as diabetes and certain cancers. Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating also recommends DHA omega-3, which has been shown to play a key role in brain, eye and heart health throughout all stages of life. A recent report by Dietitians of Canada recommends 500 milligrams per day of long-chain omega-3s, DHA and EPA for adults, 70 milligrams per day of DHA and EPA for children older than three, and 29 milligrams daily for two to three-year-olds. For information on foods, beverages and supplements containing DHA omega-3 in a vegetarian format – ideal for those with an allergy or aversion to fish – visit www.lifesdha.com.
“Holiday time is a time to feel good,” Schwartz says. “By making wiser food choices, your body will not only be healthier, but you’ll be more energetic and chances are that you’ll feel happier as well. So, don’t deprive yourself – you can have your cake and eat it too”, says Schwartz, “and at the same time reap some nutritional benefits.”
For maximum antioxidant content, use chocolate with a minimum cocoa content of 70 per cent.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
5 cups (1 L) cubed Dempster’s Smart 100% Whole Grain Wheat bread (lightly dried out – leave bread exposed to air for a few hours)
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) DHA-fortified soy beverage, such as So Good Omega DHA or Silk Plus brands
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
2 oz (50 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350°F/ 180°C.
Prepare an 8-cup/2 L baking dish by spraying with vegetable oil cooking spray. Put bread cubes in baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix together sugar, cocoa and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, DHA-fortified soy beverage and vanilla until well blended. Stir in chopped chocolate. Stir into dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
Pour egg mixture over bread cubes and stir until bread is well coated. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a knife inserted in centre comes out clean.
Serve warm or cold.
Hot Rum Chocolate
3 1/2 cups (875 mL) DHA-fortified soy beverage, such as So Good Omega DHA or Silk Plus brands
1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) unsweetened cocoa, sifted
3 tbsp (45 mL) dark rum (optional)
1 tsp (7 mL) vanilla extract
1 oz (25 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate
In a medium bowl, stir sugar and cocoa together. Add rum and vanilla; stir to make a smooth paste. Whisk in 1/2 cup (125 mL) soy beverage and chopped chocolate; set aside.
Heat remaining 3 cups (750 mL) soy beverage in a medium-saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Remove from heat and whisk the cocoa mixture into the soy beverage until frothy. Serve immediately.
Vicki Gilhula is the managing editor of Sudbury Living magazine; sudburylivingmagazine.ca.