Here we are again, in the midst of holiday season. Tempting treats are everywhere, of course. As indoor cycling instructors, you”™re all probably excellent at maintaining self-control.

But have your students ever asked you what you eat when you”™re indulging? Maybe they”™re looking for ideas — for “better” ways to indulge. I take that last part to mean less harmful to their health, diets, and weight.

One way is to tell them to avoid sugar and indulge in healthful fats.

Okay, stop yawning. Good fats can taste great and be just as indulgent and satisfying as sugar — without most of the side effects — so hang with me for a moment. Don”™t worry; I won”™t take this occasion to repeat all of the terrible things I”™ve recounted in previous posts about sugar”™s negative health effects 🙂 Healthful fats are a smart way to indulge without incurring those effects. AND they won”™t trigger the addictive reaction that sugar infamously does.

An excellent suggestion would be raw nuts. A couple of months ago, I read a book called It Starts with Food. It turns out, according to authors D. and M. Hartwig, that the two most healthful nuts are cashews and macadamias. Many years before I read that, I used to make a cashew/macadamia nut butter that everyone described as “to die for.” It does have a rather festive taste and mouth-feel, and you can use it as a spread on some wholegrain crackers, to stuff celery or Medjool dates, or as a dip for carrots and more.

Here”™s the recipe — if you can call anything this easy a recipe. You”™ll need 1 pound of raw cashews, 6 ounces of raw macadamia nuts, 1 food processor, and about 6 to 8 minutes.

Place all of the nuts in the food processor, start it, and let it keep running until the butter has a smooth texture. It will go through a variety of stages in the 6 minutes, but don”™t be deterred. Stop and scrape the sides of the container, if absolutely necessary, but it usually works through the stages itself. The butter is perfect if you can hear a slight sloshing sound as the blades turn.

Don”™t add anything — no salt, no oil, no water. Everything will blend perfectly. If you”™re adamant about keeping the nuts raw, you”™ll need to stay close by and turn off the food processor whenever it gets warm. Let things cool, then resume. If not, just let it run.

And there it is: quick, easy, delicious, and sugar-free. If you stick to a once-a-year strategy, it could become a tasty, new (and not too indulgent) holiday tradition.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

Joan Kent

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