Forgiving Food Mistakes (Plus, 2 Guilt-Free, Indulgent Recipes)

Do I honestly feel apologetic about not throwing out the marshmallows?

I found myself asking this question the other day as I was cleaning out my pantry in the aftermath of the holidays. There were items in my kitchen I would never want to feed my children. They had been purchased by guests for recipes that my family has been making since the 1950s, that end up on the table every year for the sake of tradition, despite my objections.

Most of these ingredients I was glad to remove, but when I came across an unopened bag of marshmallows, I had trouble throwing it away. For some strange reason, I didn’t kick them to the curb.  On the one hand, I was sad that these processed, chemically preserved bombs ended up in my house in the first place. I was not going to eat them. I didn’t want my family to eat them. Yet, I found myself thinking something along the lines of: “Hmmm, it’s a perfectly good bag of marshmallows” when I knew that these puffs of foamy corn syrup were anything but “perfectly good.”

It’s Called Junk Food For A Reason

Nutrients are fleeting. They are abundant in fresh vegetables and protein but aren’t easily preserved. This is something that microbes seem to understand better than people. Mold doesn’t let the broccoli in your fridge stay fresh forever, but it leaves the crackers alone.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If it doesn’t decay, your body cannot use it as food either. These “foods” fill your stomach but don’t nourish your cells – in many cases they actually harm them. This is especially true of genetically modified foods, and we can assume that anything that contains processed wheat and corn (including corn syrup) probably also contains GMOs. We aren’t wasting anything when we throw these foods in the trash. The fact that they can sit on your shelf for three years is the very reason why they shouldn’t.

Why Do We Mourn Food?

It’s common to feel guilty about throwing food away. We hear our mother’s voice, “There are starving children in _____ !” (fill in the blank with a developing country).  This rationale never made sense when we were children, and it doesn’t make sense now.

Take a moment to ask yourself what you are actually feeling when you toss a food product that you don’t value. If it is sympathy for the hungry children of the world, then perhaps donating money to a charity that provides nutritious food to the needy will help you let go of this guilt. Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right – keeping unhealthy food around because you are feeling sorry for people who have none isn’t helping anyone.

Cook Grandma’s Collard Greens Instead of Her Apple Pie

Most likely, the root of your guilt lies a little closer to home. Maybe you feel that serving your grandmother’s apple pie every year is keeping her legacy alive. Your grandmother lived in a different world where constant vigilance wasn’t necessary to keep her children from consuming mountains of sugar – pie was probably only available a few times each year! Do a little digging, and I bet you will find that she also had some wonderfully nutritious recipes worthy of revival.

How to Handle Holiday Food Mistakes Plus Bonus RecipeGuilt-Free Holiday Recipes

Here’s a New Years Eve hors d’oeuvre that I love because it’s healthy just the way your ancestors made it – no need to modify! You might know this dish as “deviled eggs” but I prefer it by the more elegant French name, Eggs Mimosa.

Eggs Mimosa

Serves 12.


  • 12 free-range organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons organic mayonnaise (or vegenaise)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper for garnishing


  1. Place eggs in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
  2. As soon as the water begins to boil, set a timer for 8½ minutes.
  3. After 8½ minutes, remove pan from heat and run cold water over eggs until they are cool.
  4. Peel eggs and slice each in half, lengthwise.
  5. Scoop out yolks into a large bowl.
  6. Add mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper. Mash and whip yolks with a fork until creamy.
  7. Place a dollop of this mixture into each egg white half and dust with cayenne pepper.
  8. Serve alone or with lightly steamed asparagus.

Have Your Pie and Eat It Too!

I’ve preached enough about why you don’t need to serve sweets at your holiday table. Here’s a recipe for a delicious pie that is sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar. Xylitol tastes as sweet as sugar, but it passes through your body almost entirely undigested, therefore it does not spike your blood sugar the way caloric sweeteners would. Look for brands such as Xyla, which is derived from natural hardwood.

Pumpkin Dumpling Pie

Serves 6-8.



  • 1 ½ cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon creamed coconut
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • Coconut oil cooking spray


  • 1 dumpling squash
  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree, or about ½ of an 8-ounce can
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cup coconut milk, full fat
  • ½ cup xylitol sweetener
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves


For Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until well combined.
  3. Remove dough from food processor and pat into a ball.
  4. Spray a glass pie dish with a light layer of coconut oil cooking spray, and press dough into pie pan to form a thin even crust.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.

For Filling:

  1. Slice dumpling squash and pumpkin (if using fresh) in half, remove seeds and pulp, place on baking tray, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.
  2. Once squash and pumpkin are tender, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Scoop out flesh of dumpling squash and 1 cup of pumpkin flesh. Add to a food processor.
  3. Blend with all other ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour filling into piecrustand bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.
  5. Enjoy!

So, What Happened To The Marshmallows?

We made them into a fun art project! My incredibly creative daughter painted them with glitter and beaded them into a festive garland. Did she pop one into her mouth? Yes. And I forgave myself for allowing it to happen.


  1. claire on December 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for sharing your guilt about throwing away “perfectly good” food that’s anything but that! I, too, have felt that way in the past but end up doing it anyway. It’s “perfectly crap”, I remind myself, and I have no need for it nor does my family. It’s good to hear that others feel the same way I do and that it’s not wasteful. I especially dislike when we are urged to donate the “crap” foods in our pantries to local food banks. I don’t want others to eat what I feel isn’t good enough for any person! So in the trash it goes, right where it belongs!

  2. Lisa on December 24, 2013 at 5:18 am

    I am writing a recipe book for clients and would live to include some of your recipes with your permission and credit

  3. Judy on December 25, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Absolutely loved your marshmallow story!!
    Oh, how we are programmed to believe what is “good”.
    What a brilliant eight year old daughter.
    Thanks for sharing.