Joanne Smith and Kylie JamesThe holiday season is upon us, and winter weather entices us to snuggle up and stay indoors while enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate and indulging in a few too many holiday desserts. These festive treats get us in the holiday spirit but also tend to get us in trouble. Not only do high sugar foods add on extra pounds, they can also contribute to excess inflammation in the body, joint and muscle pain, blood sugar imbalance and constipation — issues that affect many individuals with mobility impairments.

To help prevent mindless snacking this holiday season, keep healthy high-fiber and protein goodies on hand that help keep blood sugar levels from spiking, support healthy digestion and make us feel full so we aren’t tempted to reach for a sugar-filled treat.  One way to do this is to swap out white, fiber-less flour for high protein/ high fiber options like almond or coconut flour.

Almond flour is an excellent source of protein, fiber and calcium — which supports healthy bones. Coconut flour is also high in protein, fiber and healthy fats to help sustain energy. These flours not only transform baked goods from nutrient-void sugary snacks into nutritious nibbles, they also help keep the number one New Year’s resolution — weight loss — off your list!

Joanne Smith and Kylie James are co-authors of the book Eat Well Live Well with SCI and Other Neurological Conditions. For more information on nutrition for neurological injuries, go to

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chunk Blondies

½ cup coconut flour
1 tbsp tapioca starch
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
2 medium ripe bananas
1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water, set for 10 minutes
6 tbsp almond butter or seed butter
4 tbsp coconut sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¾ cup dark chocolate, chopped in chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease or line a square baking tin.
In small bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt. Set aside.
In separate large bowl, peel and mash bananas until smooth. Stir in chia, almond butter, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and maple syrup until combined.
Slowly add flour mixture to wet mixture, stirring until combined. Fold in walnuts and chocolate.
Pour batter onto baking pan. Smooth out the top.
Bake for 23-25 minutes. Do not over-bake!
Remove from oven, let cool, slice into squares.

Raw Gingerbread Cookies

1 ¼ cup pitted dates
¼ cup almond flour/meal
¼ cup buckwheat oats
¾ cup rolled oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cloves
optional coconut sugar

Blend all ingredients, except dates, in high-speed blender or food processor until you get a fine consistency, like flour.
Add in half of dates and process until well combined. Add remaining dates until you have a uniform dough.
Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of dough, flatten with a rolling pin and use a cookie cutter to make desired shapes.
Sprinkle coconut sugar on top of cookies.