The traditions behind each family’s holiday baking are often as unique as the actual recipes themselves. My perfect type A-personality friend Cathy plans and bakes one recipe each day the first week in December. Before anyone knows it, her baking is finished, packed away in color-coded Tupperware and alphabetized in her freezer.
My family, on the other hand, always headed for the hills the day I began my baking. They knew what was coming, as they carried in bags upon bags of flour and sugar from the grocery store. When baking day dawned, flour flew as I worked on three recipes at a time, hour after hour, until by midnight, everyone could heave a corporate sigh of relief as the baking was done, the kitchen was tidied and my family lay in an exhausted, sugar-shocked stupor. The holidays could now begin.
Whether you relish the making, the swapping or the tasting, holiday baking can be one of the true joys of the season. But, along with the abundance of sweets often comes the mere abundance … aka holiday weight gain.
So if you love your Aunt Edna’s thumbprint cookies but don’t want to inherit her love handles, you might consider establishing a few of your own healthy traditions, beginning with baking day. Here’s a few tips to help you get started:
• Don’t overbake — We are often so afraid we will end up with no homemade baking in the freezer for those unexpected guests (that never show up) that we end up baking for an army. Better to plan carefully on paper the people to whom you want to give cookies and add in the number you’ll need for your own family and bake that much, no more.
• Don’t bake on an empty stomach — No need to elaborate here.
• Don’t leave your cakes and cookies where you can see them or get to them easily. A spare freezer with a key works great, or the attic, garage, even a friend’s freezer. Whatever keeps you out of the cookies.
• Bake with a friend — Stay accountable and share the workload at the same time by baking with someone who understands your struggles. And let them do the taste testing.
• Bake one-piece treats — Making pies, cakes and breads to give away is a lot safer than cookies. No one will notice a few missed cookies, but they’ll certainly spot the end cut off a Christmas bread.
• Find new light recipes — If you just don’t feel kitchen-savvy enough to lighten your own recipes, head to my website, kimbensen.com, where you’ll find delicious, light treats you can bake at home. Or stop by our new café, located at 405 Bridgeport Avenue, where you can taste firsthand how delicious light baking can be.
Try some of these tips to help you stick with your program through the holidays. Come Dec. 26 … you’ll be so glad you did.
Kim is a lifetime dieter who lost more than 200 pounds. She leads motivational meetings at the Kim Bensen Weight Loss Center, 405 Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton. Or come to Kim’s Light Café – now open. For more information call 203-513-8722 or visit kimbensen.com.