The holidays always call for plenty of desserts. Whether I’m throwing a party, giving gifts of food, or reliving holidays past through sweet treats, desserts are integral to my life this month. I’ll share a few of my favorite recipes with you.
Every year I host a Christmas caroling party at my home. Choirs from churches all over the area stop by to sing in my living room. Sometimes a Filipino celebrity or two will perform. My guests just love it. I like to put out a dinner buffet so that the choirs have something to eat before they go home. The buffet always includes pretty bite-size desserts. My Brazil Nut Tarts are dainty, healthy and delicious. Brazil nuts provide selenium, vitamin E, and omega 3 fatty acids. All of these FoodTrients keep your skin healthy, revitalized, and elastic. The singers gobble them up.
My Pear Apple Tart is another crowd pleaser. For this recipe, I like to start with the classic French dessert tarte tatin recipe – with its quercetin-containing apples – and add pears for their copper content and pecans and cinnamon, which are high in antioxidants. It is worth noting that when used in sufficient amounts, cinnamon also has anti-blood-clotting agents and anti-inflammatory properties and may help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Another sweet surprise to serve at parties or to give as a holiday gift is my Baobab Butter Squares. These squares are like lemon bars but made with antioxidant-rich baobab. You can use fresh lemon juice or lemon zest instead of the baobab powder and substitute gluten-free flour for the wheat-based flour, but if you are up for something deliciously different use baobab powder. It’s available at Whole Foods and on Amazon. Baobab is a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that appears to guard against heart disease and stroke and also protects the skin from the aging effects of ultraviolet rays. It contains fiber, which helps with digestion and gut health.
I do love to give food as Christmas presents, so one year I made batches and batches of my Prune and Walnut Bars as gifts. I cut them in pretty triangles, set them on decorated plates, and wrapped them up with cellophane and ribbon. Prunes and walnuts are loaded with antioxidants, so these bars are a holiday treat that comes with age-defying side effects. Prunes also are a great source of vitamin C. I’ve combined these two age-defying powerhouses into one great dessert.
Prune and Walnut Bars
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped prunes
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup Smart Balance or butter, softened
2 Tbs. coconut butter
1 1/4 cup organic sugar or xylitol
2 large eggs
1/2 cup egg substitute
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a bowl, combine the white rice flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the prunes and walnuts. Mix well and set aside.
3. In a stand mixer or using beaters, cream the butter substitute until fluffy. Add the coconut butter and sugar a little at a time.
4. Separately combine the eggs and egg substitute and whisk until smooth. Add to the creamed butter mixture.
5. Combine the creamed butter-egg mixture with the dry flour mixture.
6. Spread into greased and floured 8″ X 8″ baking pan and bake at 325 degrees until the center is firm, about 40-45 minutes.
7. Cool for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.
Cranberry Bread Pudding
Cranberries don’t grow in the subtropical climate of Southeast Asia, so when my mother and I wanted to make this dessert, we had to use a local red-colored berry as a substitute. I like this recipe better with cranberries, which are high in vitamin C. They also rank very high on the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale. Use my Cranberry Compote on the bottom layer (it becomes the top layer when you turn out the dessert). To serve this dessert cold, place the pudding in the refrigerator overnight before turning upside down.
2 large beaten eggs
3 cups cubed whole-wheat bread
1 can (12 oz.) fat-free evaporated milk
¼ cup melted Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend
¼ cup organic sugar or xylitol
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ tsp. lemon zest
1 recipe Cranberry Compote