Healthy Eating: Savory or sweet, these treats are just right for holiday season

Coconut Chocolate Nut Truffles

This is the time of year when our eating and drinking habits can get out of control easily.  During the holiday season, overeating can be a serious problem, leaving us feeling tired, stressed and generally unwell. Lots of family gatherings, office parties and holiday festivities with friends offer us an abundance of opportunities for overindulging.

I find that denying myself treats does not work. This is the time of the year when moderation comes into practice. I try to choose things that I will enjoy and then when I eat the chosen food item, I try to eat slowly and savor the food. Noticing tastes and textures enhances the experience and leaves me feeling satisfied (rather than craving more.)  It’s especially rewarding when you try new foods or special treats that may be higher in calories.

Mindful eating is not an easy practice. Slowing down when everyone else seems to be rushing around is a challenge. Like any practice, it takes time and patience to work as well as to make it a habit. You will discover that by using this simple practice (which requires no special equipment!), you enjoy your food more and eat less. It’s a win-win situation. Your body will be much happier and your demeanor will be calmer.

I offer two new recipes that allow you to bring healthful treats to potlucks and parties at this time of year. And the best part is that most people will not realize that they are eating something that is good for them! One item is savory and the other item is sweet.

I hope you enjoy the food pleasures of the season with a sense of delight and discovery.  Best wishes for lovely season of light with a dose of mindfulness.

Coconut Chocolate Nut Truffles 

1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts (or pecans)
1 cup dates
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Hot water if needed
(Extra coconut and cocoa for garnish at the end)
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until it becomes a chunky paste.  Add a small amount of hot water if necessary. Roll the paste into bite-sized balls and then roll them in either coconut or cocoa. Refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.
Spinach or Kale Balls
20 ounces of frozen chopped spinach or kale
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups of dried bread, croutons, or stuffing mix (can be gluten free if you prefer.)
1/2 cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan cheese (use the real deal, not the stuff with the green top!)
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup of butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Cook and thoroughly drain the spinach or kale. Mix all of the ingredients together and chill for at least one hour. Roll into balls. Bake on a parchment lined sheet pan for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Delicious served alone or with a lemon herb yogurt sauce.

– By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at

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