Have Your Genache and Eat It, Too! A Renal-Friendly Tip-Sheet for The Holidays

By Bethany A. Hoppe 

mobileWOMAN, Bethany Hoppe
‘Tis the season to be Jolly…and totally jinx your well-executed healthy lifestyle you’ve created for the last year, in just four easy weeks!  Renal-friendly diet or not, I can promise you I generally do not turn down every single Christmas cookie that looks my direction, or deny myself a taste of the latest Holiday Cocktail. 

So, how does a girl preserve herself without pickling herself throughout the celebrations?  We all know that your co-workers at the office are not going to forego the salt, and to ask family members in all directions to cook renal-friendly is going to be akin to suggesting Tofurky instead of the real bird back on the farm.  Actually – you might get a bird – only it might not be the one you anticipated. 

No worries – here are some quick tips to stay as renal-friendly as possible during all of the festivities without upsetting the fruit cake, Great-Aunt Biddy, or your Holiday Spirit.

Sugar Plum Dream Cocktail
Drinks All Around:  It would be a huge stretch of the imagination if you found yourself to be the only single solitary person at the party who turns down alcohol.  Not to be snide, but in nearly all social settings there will be those who do not imbibe for religious, addictive, or other health reasons.  So, while some of your cronies may be tipping back the Christmas Punch more than others, you are not alone in your choice to mix up your own non-alcoholic drinks that look and taste as great as the available cocktails, without the kick to the kidney. 

If, however, you are in a place where a glass of wine or spiked punch isn’t a health hazard, be sure to drink twice as much water as either an alcoholic or highly caffeinated drink.   A quick rule of thumb from the article “How to Take Care of Your Kidney Health,” drink one and a half to two liters of water a day, and drink only moderate amounts of tea, coffee and cola because they contain caffeine. This, like alcohol, is a diuretic - which means that it dehydrates the body.  So – for every Sugar Plum Dream cocktail – drink twice the amount of fluid in pure clean water…something sure to be at most dinner parties. 

Christmas Cookies and Divine Desserts:  I am the biggest loser when it comes to Christmas cookies.  They.  Are.  Everywhere.  And they have ingredients in them that are forbidden by renal diet standards, seated living standards, and obviously most dietary standards.  But they are so damn good!  Cookies start showing up at Halloween.  Co-workers start bringing in pre-sale holiday assortments, the Holiday Spirit grabs us and we start rehearsing this year’s latest, greatest dessert creation by baking them in October to try them out before giving them ask gifts.  Basically, you’re going to be around cookies for the next three months! 

Skinny Bitch Bakery Cookbook
While cookies and desserts aren’t as risky as cocktails are, for those safeguarding renal function, good circulation, blood pressure, or diabetes – it can be more than a challenge to avoid them altogether.  When faced with the delights that surround you, instead of total abstinence (unless your health is at such a risk that it is a direct doctor’s order), surrender to the tiny indulgences that are least harmful.  Choose the desserts that are either sugar-free, or are least sugared.  Go for dark chocolate flavors, small single portions, and bold varieties. 

To further safeguard yourself, contribute to the pile by baking your own delicious treats choosing recipes that are tasty, sugar-free, renal-friendly, vegetarian, or vegan.  Once again, it is highly doubtful that you are alone when it comes to dieting, watching your blood sugar levels, or maintaining your health during the holidays.  I have found that Clean Eating magazine offers amazing confection recipes, as does Skinny Bitch (they are vegan), and Cleveland Clinic’s RenalDiet Cookbook.  Check out the Vegan Raspberry Chocolate Ganache recipe at the end of this article!

Christmas Dinner:  While we may not be in control of what happens in the kitchen for Thanksgiving Dinner, we are in control of what happens to our plate at the family gathering.  Simple tips – drink a full glass of water about 15-minutes before dinner.  Do not add salt to your servings – whether it is potatoes, the Christmas Ham (especially), or veggies.  Let the natural occurring salts, or the salt the chef added, be the only salt in your dish.  If something tastes extra-salty, skip it altogether and “double up” on something less saline.  Steer clear of obvious canned or processed foods, particularly canned veggies.  If the string beans are strung out from a can, choose more fruit salad instead.  Again, if the occasion calls for it – contribute to the menu with something you know you like and enjoy that also meets your needs.  Bring-a-dish gatherings are perfect for this.  Try to make your dish-to-pass includes things you need in your renal diet:  be sure it is alkaline, flavorful, has plant or clean protein, and is low-potassium. 

Water – The Solution to The Pollution:   At the very least, when you have no other options before you at dinner parties, office parties, recital refreshments, or Christmas Dinner itself…load up on the H20.  Pure filtered water is by far the best combatant to disease, bloating, UTI’s, kidney infections, weight-gain, and nearly all other malaise we continue to face.  My own urologist has shared with me that the one thing surgeons say to each other across the table is “Water, it is the solution to the pollution.”  Water, if we drank it like we should, would nearly clear the OR’s of patients. 

Celebrate healthy this year.  Drink plenty of water, participate in the parties on your terms, and know that if you can follow these simple tips…you are way ahead of everyone else on your New Year’s Resolutions!

Here’s a great recipe from Skinny Bitch Bakery by Kim Barnouin…Enjoy!

Chocolate Espresso Raspberry Gateau

1 ½ Cups Almond Milk
2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Chocolate Chips (I prefer dark or bitter chocolate Bethany’s notation)
1 ½ Cups brewed Espresso or Strong Hot Coffee
2 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ½ Cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
¾ teaspoons Baking Powder
1 ¼ teaspoon Salt (may be eliminated Bethany’s notation)
1 Cup Vegan Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)
Raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 300-degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease four 4-5” springform pans and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine almond milk and apple cider and let stand for 2-minutes.  In another bowl, pour the egg replacer and the ½ cup water, whisking until smooth, and set aside.  Put the chocolate chips in a large bowl and pour the coffee over the chips.  Let stand for 5-minutes, and then stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and (optional) salt.  Pour the almond milk and egg replacer mixtures into the coffee, whisking to combine.  Gradually add the flour mixture, beating, with a whisk or an electric mixer until well combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake until slightly puffed in the center but not liquid, about 50-minutes.  If using a larger pan, cook 15-20 minutes longer.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature on wire racks.

Once the cakes have cooked, remove them from the pans and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet.  Pour the Vegan Chocolate Ganache over the cakes, letting it cover the top and drip down the sides.  Let the ganache set for 5-10 minutes before adding the raspberries.  Refrigerate until the ganache has set, about 20-minutes. 

Vegan Chocolate Ganache: Makes One Cup
1 ½ Cup Chocolate Chips (I prefer dark or bitter Bethany’s notation)
¾ Cup Coconut Milk
1 ½ Tablespoons Earth Balance
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the coconut milk and Earth Balance to a simmer.  Remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips.  Let stand for 10-minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and stir until mixture is smooth and thick.  Let cool for 15-minutes before using.  
Bethany A. Hoppe is the author of the Lifestyle Blog "Raspberry Vogue," and the children's book series "Molly B. Golly."  The first book, "Molly B. Golly's Wonderful Dancing Debut!" is currently released. Bethany teaches Communication and Voice Diction at Middle Tennessee State University, and is the founder of Bethany Productions which promotes women with disabilities within entertainment through writing, speaking, performance, and fashion.  Visit Bethany at www.bethany-hoppe.com to keep up with her creative projects!  You can also find her online at www.facebook.com/bethany.productions

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