As Christmas approaches, I think about warmed mince pies. Most commercial versions of mince pie fillings are loaded with sugar and contain unhealthy additions like chemical preservatives, refined sugars, glucose fructose corn syrup and processed hydrogenated fats like vegetable suet.
Mincemeat contains a mixture of dried fruits, which are good sources of minerals like iron, B-vitamins and beta carotene, a potent anti-oxidant. The natural fruit sugars are concentrated, which means the additional of any extra sugar is unnecessary. I have combined dried fruits with spices, green tea and coconut oil, which all help to support blood sugar management.
Green tea helps to add some digestive bitters and beneficial polyphenols. It's a valuable aid with blood sugar management. The spices cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg also support blood sugar management and they all act as preservatives due to their natural antibacterial properties. A lot of the therapeutic components of these spices are fat soluble and become bio-available in the presence of fat. To support this, some type of fat needs to be added to the mincemeat.
Factory Farmed Suet and Vegetable Suet (avoid)
Traditional mincemeat always included suet, which is the hard fat found around body organs like the kidneys in cattle. Suet is mostly saturated fat but does contain some monounsaturated and a small portion of polyunsaturated of fat. The saturated fat makes this a stable fat to cook with plus this type of fat does not get damaged by oxidation. If the animals have been reared naturally without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics and are grass fed then suet is a source of valuable fat soluble vitamins plus it will have a balanced ratio of omega 6 and 3 essential fatty acids.
However in modern mass factory farming, cattle are routinely fed antibiotics, growth hormones and lots of omega 6 rich grains. These farming techniques create imbalances within the fat, meat, dairy, eggs etc. As most commercial suet is rendered from factory farmed cattle it should be avoided.
Vegetable versions of suet are no better and in my opinion are probably more damaging than animal-based suet. They are made from highly processed and refined seed oils, which are hard for the body to process and contribute to inflammation. They should be avoided especially if there are inflammatory health issues within the body.
My choice of fat is coconut oil rather than suet from factory farmed animals or hydrogenated vegetable suet. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. When digested it offers the body cells an alternative fuel source to glucose. This is particularly useful when there are imbalances around glucose management like hypoglycaemia and type 2 diabetes. Coconut oil has also been shown to support conditions where there is a mismanagement of glucose supply to the brain such as brain-fog, Alzheimer's and dementia.
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 tsp green tea
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 inch cube of fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
5-7 green cardamom pods
- I added 1/2 cup of hot water to 1 tsp of green tea and let it steep for around 5 minutes
- While the green tea brewed, I de-stoned and chopped my dried dates and apricots
- I split the cardamom pods then crushed the seeds in a pestle and mortar.
- I then peeled and grated the apple and fresh ginger
- Next, I melted 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a suitable pan and then added the ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and crushed cardamom.
- I gently fried the spices for a few minutes to help release the therapeutic oils.
- To the spices, I then added the dried fruits: sultanas, raisins, dates and apricots along with the grated apple, ginger, zest and juice of an orange
- I then stained my green tea mixture and added it to the mixed fruits.
- Simmered the whole lot for around 30 minutes by stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and added a little more water if the mixture was getting too dry.
So here's my no added sugar mincemeat, it contains therapeutic cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, green tea and coconut oil. It will last in the fridge for around 2 weeks. I'm going to use this as a mince pie filling but it would work well as an accompaniment to porridge, yoghurt and even with cheese.