December 2019 Gingerbread Hacks for Holiday Fun!
By Jenny Lange
I know what you are thinking, it’s odd that a newsletter based on nutrition and health would dedicate an entire month to a sweet dessert treat without much nutritional value. The purpose of this newsletter, however, is not to just talk about the most nutritious foods, but also how to enjoy our food! Life is all about balance, and with the holiday season upon us, it is important to spend quality time with family and embrace the warmth and love around this season. To many, a big part of this season involves gingerbread! You may recall some of our previous newsletters about mindfulness and intuitive eating. So let’s be mindful and enjoy the fun this holiday season, free from guilt and full of creative ways to use all of the gingerbread we make!
A Brief History of Gingerbread
“Run run run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me! I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
– Gingerbread Man Fairy Tale
You may have heard the fairy tale already, but have you heard the following facts?
- The first known gingerbread recipe originated in Greece in 2400 BCE.
- Queen Elizabeth I was credited with the idea to decorate gingerbread cookies in the typical fashion we know now.
- Henry VIII used ginger in many recipes in hopes of resisting the black plague.
- The popularity of gingerbread houses rose after the Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel in Germany in the 16th
- George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, is credited with the famous Mount Vernon gingerbread recipe. She even shaped them like kings prior to the revolution, and eagles after the colonies declared independence in 1776.
- The record holding largest gingerbread house ever made was 40,000 cubic feet, used 4,000 gingerbread bricks, and it required a building permit to make.
7 Unique Ways to Use Gingerbread
Do you find yourself never finishing all of the gingerbread cookies before they get stale? What about all of your gingerbread-making ingredients? Instead of leaving your molasses, spices, and other ingredients to sit in the cupboard until next year, try these fun recipes!
- Leftover Gingerbread Pie Crust – Use gingerbread crumbs instead of graham cracker crumbs for a fun twist on traditional graham cracker pie crust.
- Gingerbread Parfait – Use a low fat Greek yogurt and alternate layers of gingerbread cookies and granola for a fun gingerbread snack that’s high in protein! You can even bake gingerbread with nuts, oats, oil, and liquid sweetener to make your own granola for this parfait!
- Gingerbread French Toast – Include molasses and nutmeg in your usual egg wash for a fun gingerbread twist!
- Gingerbread Glass Rim Garnish – Rim the glass with an orange slice, then dip the rim in gingerbread crumbs. You can fill the glass with hot chocolate, apple cider, or any of your favorite holiday beverages!
- Gingerbread Protein Powder – It’s common for seasonal protein powders to be released this time of year! Not only do these seasonal powders make a great shake, but you can also mix one scoop of the gingerbread flavored protein with an egg, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt, to have an easy waffle/pancake batter that is high in protein! You can even add it to oatmeal or yogurt for a protein boost!
- Gingerbread Loaf – Though gingerbread is as delicious as cookies, it is also great as a loaf, as well. The gingerbread loaf combines all the spicy flavors of gingerbread, with the comfort of a warm loaf cake. These are also awesome to give as gifts!
- Gingerbread Cornbread – Add the sweet flavors of gingerbread to your traditional cornbread recipe for a unique twist on this side dish! See the KRNC recipe of the month for Gingerbread Cornbread (link here)
Gingerbread isn’t just for cookies anymore! Try some of these tricks with your friends and family and enjoy the comforting flavors and aromas that this spicy holiday treat provides. Life is short! Eat gingerbread and enjoy quality time with your loved ones this season!
About the Author: Jenny is a first-year graduate student studying Food Science and Nutrition, and volunteers in a study on childhood nutrition and behavioral economics. Learn more about her in the Student Spotlight!