Have a Holly, Healthy Christmas 

A conversation with the woman behind Cookin' With Kids, plus some mouth-watering recipes for holiday treats.

Kendy Radasky

George Prentice

Kendy Radasky

Kendy Radasky's salted peppermint bark and ginger molasses cookies are so mouthwateringly scrumptious that it's nearly impossible to believe they're healthy. The peppermint bark is grain-, nut-, egg- and dairy-free, for example; and the cookies are grain- and dairy-free. So, you can imagine parents' delight when Radasky shared the holiday recipes this month during her Cookin' with Kids classes inside the showcase kitchen at the Boise Co-op in Meridian.

"There is certainly an expectation of sweetness at Christmas time," said Radasky. "That said, I just don't want to simply throw sugar at the kids. So, let's take a look at the recipe."

click to enlarge Soft Paleo Ginger Molasses Cookies - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Soft Paleo Ginger Molasses Cookies

The ginger molasses cookies are packed with protein from almond flour, fat from coconut oil and, of course, minerals from the molasses. They're healthy enough to eat for breakfast, but this time of year, they're the perfect treat. Similarly, the salted peppermint bark recipe is completely allergen-free and packed with healthy fats and an array of minerals from just a pinch of sea salt, in addition to sweetness from dairy-free dark chocolate.

Radasky's business card indicates that her name is followed by the letters "NTP."

"I'm a nutritional therapy practitioner, which is quite different from what you call a registered dietician. What I do is a very different paradigm," she said. "When I see people in my practice, it's a very detailed intake. We look at the functionality of their digestive system and their blood sugar regulation. We're really looking into the physiology of the body."

Following an earlier career in ecological research, which took her to the Big Island of Hawaii for a spell, Radasky, her husband (a movement therapist) and their then-5-year-old son took a 14,000-mile trek across the U.S., hosting health-based workshops in countless American communities. Three and a half years ago, they settled on Boise as their ideal home. Soon thereafter, Radasky partnered up with the Co-op and began her Cookin' with Kids classes at its new location in The Village.

"In October, we taught the kids to make nutrient-dense, tasty Halloween treats. In November, we introduced the kids to allergen-free versions of classic Thanksgiving recipes; and of course, this month, it's all about the winter holiday treats," said Radasky. "We'll cook up some kid-friendly, healthy soups in January; and in February we'll do something we call 'Muffin Madness," where will introduce some fun, paleo recipes."

click to enlarge Holiday Salted Peppermint Bark - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Holiday Salted Peppermint Bark

But Radasky spends most of her time working with adults. After all the Christmas and New Year's decorations have been put away, she'll launch a five-week program to help grownups curb their sugar addictions.

"It will be every Thursday for five weeks, beginning on Monday, Jan. 17. It teaches people about self-observation and self-compassion. It's completely different from what people may be familiar with with food, which is the guilt and the shame and the awkward weigh-ins and the calorie-counting," she said.

All that said, much of Western culture has shackled sugar to the holiday season.

"It would be very difficult to try to teach this course in December, because no one would commit. But with a new year, there's a new chance, a new opportunity," Radasky said. "The very idea of sweetness is really important because people have particular things that they're really challenged to let go of. So, we brainstorm and ask, 'What is it that you're doing when you come home from work? Are you getting a glass of wine to relax, and telling your kids that you can't talk to them right now? What is that wine, and that sugar, taking away from you? What can you do instead? Go for a walk? Take a bath?' I'll be honest, the first week can be a little rough for some people, but what's happening is that gut bugs, or bacteria, have grown out of proportion inside you because they've been fed by sugar. Our body has to clean them up."

And there's nothing better than to start early.

"In the Cookin' with Kids classes, we have 3-year-olds all the way up to teenagers, and they love it," said Radasky. "And quite often they'll take off to the aisles of the Co-op with their parents so they can get healthy ingredients and start to cook healthy at home."

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