Let’s face it. The holidays aren’t exactly the time for thinking
about starting a healthier diet (that’s what New Year’s is
for!). However, even if you know you’re going to be indulging, it
couldn’t hurt to make a few healthy food swaps on some holiday favorites,
just to make sure the scales continue to tip in the right direction.
Last year, we showed you how to lighten your holiday buffet. Here’s Part Two,
with some new twists on old favorites for many holiday celebrations.
For starters, there are the easy swaps, like hummus instead of creamy dips
for snacking. Also, try wine spritzers in place of champagne, which could
help your wallet as well. Fresh vegetables are a nice and light change
from heavy casseroles. And plain nuts go just as well with drinks as those
heavier candied varieties. You can also take some solace in knowing that
certain holiday foods are actually good for you, like turkey, sweet potatoes
(without the marshmallows) and cranberries (without loads of sugar).
And if you’re the cook, here are a few healthy holiday recipe swaps
that cover Christmas, Kwanzaa and Chanukah.
Christmas Low-Fat Eggnog
Courtesy of Perry Santanachote, by way of the
Eggnog has a well-deserved reputation for holiday excess because it’s
traditionally laden with cream and sugar. Here’s a healthier, low-fat,
low-carb interpretation that keeps the creaminess and the festive flavor.
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg (plus more for garnish)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup white rum or bourbon (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of the milk and the vanilla bean
pod and seeds to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs,
egg yolk, condensed milk, cornstarch, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl
until light yellow.
- Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly,
then pour it back into the pan. Stir constantly over low heat with a wooden
spoon until the eggnog begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.
Transfer the eggnog to a pitcher; cover and refrigerate for at least 4
hours or overnight.
- Remove the vanilla pod. Spike the eggnog with alcohol if desired, and garnish
with freshly grated nutmeg.
Christmas Balsamic Berry Vinaigrette Winter Salad
Sure, it’s salad and will have to compete with everything else on
your Christmas dinner table, but we love this one because it cheerfully
combines Christmas colors and is tasty and healthy.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon sugar-free strawberry preserves
- 1½ teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 3 cups torn romaine lettuce
- 1 small cooking apple, such as Braeburn or Gala, thinly sliced
- ½ cup crumbled blue, feta, or goat cheese (chèvre) (2 oz.)
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- For vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together vinegar, yogurt, preserves,
oil, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.
- In an extra-large serving bowl, combine spinach, romaine, apple, cheese,
pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Drizzle with half of the vinaigrette; toss
to coat. Pass the remaining vinaigrette.
Healthy Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Coved Katie
Who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? Here’s a recipe that sneaks in
some healthy ingredients.
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup xylitol or sugar of choice
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil (80g)
- 2-4 tablespoons water
- 1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
- 1 (13.5oz) can full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 2 tablespoon ground flax
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- Pinch pure stevia, or 2 tablespoons extra brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 200 F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
- Add oil and stir.
- Add water as needed until it just sticks together but is not gummy. Press
evenly into a 10-inch pie pan.
- Put the crust in the oven and immediately increase the temperature to 350
degrees F. (The crust will rise, so either use pie weights during baking
or press the pie crust back down afterwards.)
- Bake 15 minutes. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Blend all ingredients together until smooth, then pour into a prepared
pie crust in a 10-inch round pan.
- Bake 27 minutes (it will still be underdone after this time).
- Let cool, then refrigerate at least 5 hours uncovered for the pie to thicken
North African Grilled Vegetable Salad for Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is an African American holiday celebrating family, community and
culture. A traditional Kwanzaa celebration feast includes rich and comforting
dishes such as fried okra, chicken and sausage gumbo. This salad offers
a healthy side dish sure to get everyone’s approval:
- 1 shallot
- 1/2 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon prepared harissa chile paste, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 1 lemon (juice and finely grated zest)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 eggplant, sliced in 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and quartered
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
- 1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
- 8 cups mixed greens
- 2 cups parsley leaves
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 1 cup cooked whole wheat couscous
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives
- Pinch each of ground cayenne, coriander and cumin
- To prepare the vinaigrette, add all ingredients except olive oil to a blender.
Blend on medium speed for 2 minutes, then slowly drizzle in olive oil
with machine running. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Transfer
to a bowl, cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
- To prepare the salad, preheat a grill to high heat. Toss eggplant slices
with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill
each slice for about 3 minutes on each side, turning once. Transfer to
a bowl large enough to hold all the vegetables. Toss peppers in another
tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill peppers
for about 3 minutes on each side and add to bowl with eggplant.
- Toss onion slices in remaining tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt
and pepper and grill for about 3 minutes per side. Add to bowl with peppers
and eggplant. Cover and let vegetables sit for about 20 minutes, allowing
them to finish cooking through. Uncover and let cool to room temperature.
- To assemble salad, toss greens with parsley leaves and arrange in a large
salad bowl or on a platter. Arrange the grilled vegetables and chickpeas
in sections over the greens. Arrange couscous in the middle and top with
black olives. Stir dressing to recombine and serve alongside salad.
Spaghetti Squash Latkes for Hanukkah
Hanukkah celebrates the miracle that a small amount of oil burned for eight
days, allowing for the Jews to rededicate their temple after declaring
victory from a tyrant king. So, it’s traditional to eat food cooked
in oil, including potato pancakes or latkes. The following take on latkes,
however, uses fiber-rich spaghetti squash as its base.
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 small jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 1/2 cup cooked spaghetti squash, squeezed of excess water
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons almond meal/flour
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Coconut oil for frying
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and jalapeno with
the 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil until softened, about 3 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine the squash, egg, almond meal and parsley in a
- Once onion & jalapeno mixture is done, add it to the large bowl with
the squash and mix together.
- Using the same skillet over medium-high heat, add enough coconut oil for
pan frying (about 2 tablespoons).
- Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the squash mixture into the skillet and
fry until brown and crispy (about 3-4 minutes) on the bottom, flip and
cook on the other side until crispy.
- Carefully transfer latke onto a paper towel lined cooling rack.
- Garnish with extra parsley and serve with yogurt, sour cream or apples.