Delicious, healthy dishes and drinks to make together
A time of traditions and celebrations looks different this year. There will be fewer office parties, holiday gatherings and opportunities to overindulge in food and drink, which health-wise may be a good thing. Reports show during the past 10 months, Americans have gravitated away from natural foods to comfort foods such as baked goods, frozen pizza, string cheese and sugary cereals to get them through the pandemic.
“Food definitely helps us deal with stress, and these days the stress level for many of us is off the charts,” says Kim Bickham, director of the Willis-Knighton Diabetes & Nutrition Center. “The pandemic has made it easy to overindulge or eat foods that are not very nutritious. Add to that the normal stress of the holidays, and it can torpedo one’s diet and health.”
If going to a party, Bickham suggests eating a snack beforehand. At the party, “choose veggies, fruits and lean meats, savor each bite and limit alcohol,” she says.
If hosting a party, focus on fruits and veggies for your appetizers and meals and lighten up your recipes. “Reduce fat and calories without missing out on the taste by making smart substitutions like ones used in the following recipes,” Bickham says.
Although associated with the holidays, eggnog doesn’t have to be seasonal, and it doesn’t have to include eggs! This “nog” is a delicious option that features the crown jewel of dates – Medjool – and is the perfect beverage for anyone who craves the Christmas treat but wants to skip the dairy and alcohol.
Healthy Holiday Nog
• ½ cup pitted Medjool dates
• ¼ cup hot water
• 4 cups unsweetened coconut/almond milk (or other non-dairy versions)
• 1 tablespoon maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
• 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Place dates in a small bowl and cover with ¼ cup hot water. Let sit until dates are softened, 10 to 15 minutes. In a blender, combine milk, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt and cardamom, if using. Add softened dates along with any remaining soaking liquid. Blend at high speed until dates are pureed and mixture is frothy. Divide between four glasses. Top each glass with a sprinkle of nutmeg to taste, if desired. Serves: 4. Calories: 165 Cranberry sauce is a popular condiment or side dish on many holiday tables, but the sugar keeps many from indulging. This traditional cranberry sauce recipe is sweetened with lowglycemic stevia and will let you enjoy the deliciousness as well as the healthful benefits of cranberries: They decrease inflammation and improve the immune system, digestion and heart health!
Traditional Cranberry Sauce
• 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
• 1 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
• ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
• 5 to 6 drops liquid stevia
Sort through cranberries and discard any that are soft, brown or shriveled. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cranberries, apple juice concentrate and salt, if using. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently until berries have burst and sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Briskly stir or mash the cranberries to desired texture. Let cool, then taste and add a few drops of stevia if additional sweetness is needed. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Serving size: 2 tablespoons. Calories: 40.
The holidays meet health with this superfood salad that combines kale, quinoa and pomegranates. It’s super easy to prepare, super delicious and super good for you!
Kale, Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad
• 1 cup quinoa (measure uncooked)
• 6 tablespoons pomegranate juice
• 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
• 8 cups kale, stemmed, massaged and chopped into small pieces
• 1 large pomegranate, deseeded
• ½ cup celery, finely chopped
• 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh colander until the water runs clear, allowing as much water as possible to drain. Combine quinoa with two cups purified water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cover, simmering for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed; fluff with a fork.
Combine pomegranate juice, orange juice, olive oil and sea salt in the bottom of a large bowl; whisk together until emulsified. Combine the rest of the ingredients into the dressing and serve, or store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Serves: 8. Calories: 206.
This updated recipe for pumpkin pie is robustly flavorful and is rich in antioxidants and omega-3’s. You can enjoy a holiday favorite and eat healthy at the same time!
Pumpkin Pie For Crust
• 9 ounces (about 14) graham crackers
• ½ cup soy, oat or flax milk
• 2 tablespoons flax meal
• ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
• ½ cup or about 6 Medjool dates, pitted
• 1½ cups unsweetened soy, oat or flax milk
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
• 3 tablespoons flax meal
• 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon ginger
• 1/8 teaspoon cloves
• ½ teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. To make the crust, crumble graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until crackers form fine crumbs. Add soy milk, flax meal and ginger and pulse until mixture holds its form when pressed. Using your fingers, press the mixture evenly over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a rack to cool. To make the filling, place dates in a small bowl with ½ cup hot water. Cover bowl and let sit until dates are softened, about 10 minutes. Strain, reserving ¼ cup of the date-soaking liquid. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine non-dairy milk and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce heat and cook, whisking frequently, until cornstarch is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in softened dates, reserved ¼ cup of date-soaking liquid, pumpkin, flax meal, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, cloves and salt. Working in batches if necessary, pour pumpkin mixture into a blender, being careful to fill blender no more than two-thirds full. On low speed, blend mixture until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust. (You may not need all the filling. Pour any extra into a ramekin or serving dish. Chill and serve as pumpkin custard.) Place pie in refrigerator and chill for several hours before serving. Pie will firm up and set as it cools. If you like your pumpkin pie served warm, cover the chilled pie with aluminum foil and warm in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes. Serving size: 1 slice. Calories: 155.