I'm still in the kitchen preparing for our healthy holidays. Today, I made healthy refrigerator fudge with cranberries and pistachios. Not only is this refrigerator fudge really good, it is easy peasy to make too. In fact, from start to finish these were setting in the refrigerator in less than 15 minutes. This refrigerator fudge recipe is dairy-free. I hope you enjoy it.
Before I get to my healthy refrigerator fudge recipe, I wanted to take a minute to talk about “healthy treats” and how they fit within the context of a real food lifestyle.
What I Think About Healthy Treats
Empty calories. A term used to describe the calories in the American diet that fail to deliver any nutritional benefits. These so-called empty calories come from processed carbohydrates, fats and sugars and lack important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Empty calories are usually associated with desserts, cakes, cookies, candy but also include soda, juice, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages as well as fast foods, chips, crackers and most convenience foods. Just exactly what percentage of the American diet is made up of empty calories is debatable, however, most reliable sources estimate it to be 30% or more.
The government proposes empty calories can be consumed in moderation, with limits based on age and activity level. Based on this chart, my two teenage sons would be allowed 265 empty calories per day or approximately the equivalent of two cans of high fructose corn syrup laden soda. While the focus is usually on the impact these empty calories have on weight, we cannot dismiss what they are doing to our health, even in modest amounts. In fact, daily consumption of HFCS has been found to increase blood levels of small dense LDL within two weeks.
Most health and nutrition advocates agree a diet consisting of nutrient dense foods is optimal. In fact, we could argue, simply by eliminating empty calories one’s health would improve dramatically. Here’s the crux though, when it comes to changing nutritional habits, denial does not work well for most people. As soon as we tell ourselves we can’t have something, we want it more than ever. Message boards devoted to healthy eating are littered with posts, recounting tales of binging on “forbidden” foods, even more so after a holiday or special celebration.
If simply eliminating foods doesn’t work, then what does? In addition to learning about nutrition choices and their impact on one’s health, many are able to make sustainable nutritional changes by substituting unhealthy foods with healthy counterparts.
While some may take issue with the term “healthy” treats, I have found they are an important part of a sustainable healthy eating lifestyle.