‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
Sounds enticing right?
If the children are dreaming of sugar plums they must be yummy!
Back in the day, the term plums referred to any dried fruit or even candies. As a result there are many different recipes for sugar plums out there, ranging from dried fruits, nuts and lots of sugar, to healthier (and delicious) recipes using dried fruits, nuts and spices.
Before we take a look at the recipe here are some tips on getting the best ingredients.
How to get the healthiest nuts
Look for organic nuts, otherwise they may have been heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Have you ever soaked your nuts? Soaking your nuts helps to make them healthier and more digestible. Here’s how you do it.
Place your nuts in a glass bowl. Cover with lukewarm water with an extra two inches at the top. Add 1/2 tsp of salt. Let sit overnight.
In the morning, strain off the liquid. If using them in this recipe you can use as is. If you want to store them for a bit, put them in the oven on the lowest setting until they are dry.
Health benefits of walnuts
Walnuts are anti-inflammatory, are high in essential fatty acids and have been studied extensively for their beneficial actions on the brain. (Interesting that walnuts look sorta like brains too.)
How to get the healthiest dried fruits
Look for organic dried fruits that are also un-sulphured. Check the ingredients list and avoid dried fruits that have been additionally sweetened (they are sweet enough as is!).
Health Benefits of Dried Fruit
Dried fruit can be super high in antioxidants, which can modulate inflammation in the body and support cardiovascular health. Because they are so high in antioxidants many different kinds of dried fruits are used to support eye health.
Keep in mind that these sweet treats are still treats. They contain lots of sugars which, even though they are natural, can still be problematic for people with insulin resistance, diabetes or anyone concerned with eating too much sugar. Moderation in everything as they say.
This sugar plum recipe is very forgiving so don’t feel trapped by my dried fruit suggestions; feel free to use any type of dried fruit that suits your fancy.
How to get the best spices
You might think spices are spices, but there’s a big difference in the quality of spices that are available. Be sure to get your organic spices from a reputable source that has a high turnover rate. (We don’t want our spices sitting around for a long time.) Spices should be freshly dried and vibrant. One of the best ways to ensure that you are getting the best spices is to buy them whole and then grind them yourself.
Health Benefits of the spices in this recipe
Cinnamon is a warming spice that can be used for a variety of health complaints, from fevers to tummy aches and menstrual cramps. Cinnamon is a wonderful herb to help lower blood glucose levels and is therefore a great addition to anything sweet. This is one spice I buy already powdered since it can be hard to powder yourself.
I think cardamom is one of the most alluring spices – no wonder it is a common ingredient in aphrodisiac recipes. In the herbal world it is well known for its ability to support the lungs and has been studied a lot for its benefits for asthma. If you are grinding your own cardamom, discard the green hulls and grind the seeds within.
Fennel is a famous digestive herb. It is aromatic and carminative and is perfect for helping with stagnant digestion such as bloating. It also simply tastes great and can be added to both sweet and savory foods.
Nutmeg is a calming spice that is best when freshly ground. You can buy special graters for this or you can simply use the small side of a cheese grater. Warmed nutmeg milk is a famous drink to help support sleep.
Need a nutmeg grater? Get one here.
Sugar Plum Recipe
This is a super simple recipe that will please anyone’s sweet tooth. These work well for holiday parties, or wrap them up and give the gift of sugar plums this holiday season.
- 1 cup nuts
(I used walnuts this time; I also like a mix of hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans)
- 2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup chopped and pitted prunes
- 1/4 cup pitted dates
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tsp roasted fennel seeds that have been lightly ground
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- coconut flakes for rolling
First, pit the dates.
Roast the fennel seeds in a dry pan on medium high heat, stirring frequently. They are done when slightly browned and they smell fragrant (it just takes a couple of minutes). When they are roasted, lightly grind them using a spice grinder or suribachi.
Place the nuts, dried fruit, spices, orange zest and maple syrup in a food processor. (A heavy duty blender would probably work too).
Pulse the mixture until it is just combined and starting to stick together.
Form into bite size balls. Roll in the coconut.
Store in the fridge and eat soon.