Herbs and spices are an easy way to add flavor to dishes without extra sugar or calories. This time of year, gingerbread spice is synonymous with holiday cookies, but it’s actually much more versatile. While you can buy a pre-made mix at the grocery store, it’s easy to make your own with a few key spices such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. The exact amount of each ingredient may vary per recipe, and cardamom, molasses or honey may also be added if desired.
Ginger has been studied for several anti-inflammatory properties and may also help with weight loss, nausea, and supporting the metabolism.
While gingerbread is typically used in high-sugar recipes, like cookies and hot chocolate, it can also help season a variety of protein-rich healthy recipes, too. Adding protein to your gingerbread favorites is a great way to ensure these snacks and meals help hold you over for longer, meaning less frequent snacking throughout the day and more stable blood sugar. Protein plays a role in every cell in the body, helping to build and repair tissue and muscles, and is involved in producing enzymes and hormones. Protein is often the key to satiety and appetite regulation.
Here are five healthy high-protein recipes to enjoy when you’re in the mood for gingerbread cheer.
Not only is homemade granola budget-friendly, but it also tends to be lower in sugar since you can control how much you use. For a festive gingerbread variation, combine rolled oats, your favorite nuts and seeds, a gingerbread spice blend (2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg), plus a little sweetener (like maple syrup). Bake at 320°F (160°C) for around 40 minutes or until crisp and golden. Once cooled, add your favorite dried fruits. Enjoy the granola on its own as a snack or over Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or quark for even more protein.
Oatmeal is a canvas for adding your favorite flavorings and toppings. Adding gingerbread spice can instantly make it taste more seasonal and provide delicious flavor without added sugar and extra calories from sweeteners. Including protein sources, like yogurt, milk, nuts and seeds, can also help make oatmeal more satiating and satisfying. Try adding a gingerbread spice blend of 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon allspice to your favorite oatmeal recipe; feel free to play with the ratio to suit your taste buds.
Meatballs are a great holiday appetizer on their own or they can be part of a hearty main dish served with whole-wheat pasta, in a sandwich or over rice. Try making these healthy baked turkey meatballs and swap the Italian spice and red pepper flakes for a gingerbread spice blend made with 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cloves.
Another classic breakfast staple, pancakes offer a great opportunity for adding a dose of gingerbread spice to your morning. These protein-packed pancakes are made with Greek yogurt for an extra dose of protein, calcium and probiotics. For gingerbread flavor, simply fold in 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon allspice into the batter. You can also add toppers like hemp seeds, flaxseeds, yogurt or peanut butter for even more protein.
For a protein-rich, gingerbread smoothie, start with a base of your favorite milk or yogurt. Add ice or a frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of almond butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 teaspoons molasses, 1 scoop of protein powder and a pinch of nutmeg and cloves (about 1/8 teaspoon each). For extra veggies, you can even add a handful of spinach or cauliflower without overly impacting the flavor. Blend everything together, and you’ve got a quick-and-easy, protein-rich smoothie with a gingerbread flavor.
Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.