Food Healthy Living: Holiday recipes designed with your health in mindWhen the holiday season beckons, we all face the same dilemma: How can we avoid putting on extra weight while having a great time? I have found that preparing lighter versions of my favorite party foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables helps keep me on track with my healthy living goals. The challenge I have, like many, is that time is short during the holidays. So my party dishes have to be quick and easy and must produce a “wow” factor for my guests.
By: Arlene Coco Buscombe, Living North, Living North
When the holiday season beckons, we all face the same dilemma: How can we avoid putting on extra weight while having a great time? I have found that preparing lighter versions of my favorite party foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables helps keep me on track with my healthy living goals. The challenge I have, like many, is that time is short during the holidays.
So my party dishes have to be quick and easy and must produce a
“wow” factor for my guests.
Healthy entertaining on the fly is easy with the help of a few secret weapons. Canned beans, good quality naturally preserved fruits and vegetables plus some flavorful oils and vinegars can create a menu within minutes. These items can easily be transformed into dips and spreads when guests stop by or if you need to pull a quick dish
together after work to take to an impromptu holiday get-together. Nutrition consultant Paula Tsufis from Duluth gives savvy advice on planning for healthy holidays. “All forms of fruits and vegetables; fresh, frozen, canned and dried, contain important nutrients and contribute to a healthy diet,” she explained. “By planning ahead and having a well-stocked kitchen and pantry, families can eat more healthfully, especially during the busy holidays. Stock your shelves with brightly colored fruits and vegetables.”
A breads and spreads buffet can be a creative opportunity for a spur-of-the-moment party. If you are more of a shopper than a cook, the choices for mouthwatering breads are abundant in the grocery store along with a primo selection of well-prepared spreads. Some of my favorites are apple butter with crusty multigrain artesian bread or a lovely hummus served with soft chewy flatbreads. A low-fat version of blue cheese and cream cheese mixed and spread on Belgian endive leaves sounds exotic but is easy and your guests will love the beautiful presentation. These recipes feature good-for-you ingredients that can be on standby in the cupboard or the freezer, waiting to come out for your next party.
By Arlene Coco Buscombe
This dip has the creaminess of avocados without the extra calories.
2 9-ounce boxes frozen asparagus pieces, thawed, drained (3 cups)
1/3 Cup red onions, minced
1 Garlic clove, minced
2/3 Cup chopped tomatoes
3 Tablespoons fat-free or reduced fat mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon lime juice
½ Teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoon minced cilantro
½ Teaspoon chili powder
Hot pepper sauce or minced jalapeno to taste
Place asparagus in blender or food processor. Add onion and garlic and
process until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix tomatoes, mayo, lime juice, salt, cilantro or parsley,chili powder and hot pepper sauce/jalapenos. Stir in asparagus mixture. Serve with fresh vegetables or Seeded Tortilla Points (see recipe on next page). Makes 3 1/2 cups or approximately 8 appetizer servings.
Almost every culture has some sort of an eggplant dip. This Sicilian version is delicious served with crusty multigrain bread. 1 1/2 pounds of fresh zucchini can be substituted for eggplant, if desired.
2 Eggplants (about 1 ½ pounds)
peeled and diced
5 Cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 14.5-ounce canned diced tomatoes,
2 Ribs celery, washed, cut in small pieces
1 Medium onion, peeled, chopped small
1 Green pepper, cut into small pieces
½ cup canned roasted red peppers, diced small
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons drained nonpareil capers
8 Pitted black olives, chopped
1 Tablespoon roasted pine nuts
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ Teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggplant on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. On a separate baking sheet, mix garlic, tomatoes, celery, onion and green pepper and toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place both in oven. Roast until eggplant is soft and vegetable mix is brown in color, about 30 minutes. Stir vegetables during cooking after the first 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter to cool. In a large bowl, combine the roasted red pepper,parsley, capers, olives, pine nuts, vinegar and cocoa powder. Mix with the eggplant and roasted vegetable mixture.
Makes 3-4 cups.
White Bean Hummus
Any white canned bean can be used as a substitute for Great Northern Beans. This spread pulls double duty as a sandwich filling, with
1 15.5-oz can White Great Northern
2 Cloves of garlic, sliced
2 Teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ Teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ Teaspoon salt
1/8 Cup olive oil
Drain beans and rinse.
Place in food processor with all ingredients
except olive oil and puree until smooth.
Add olive oil, puree 5 seconds more and
adjust seasonings. Store in refrigerator for up
to 5 days.
Serve in bowl with pita bread or crackers.
Makes approximately 1½ cups.
Seeded Tortilla Points
Keep these on hand as a substitute for chips. The seed mix also tastes great sprinkled on vegetables.
5 Whole-wheat flour tortillas
1 Egg white
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut each tortilla in 8 triangles and place on
ungreased cookie sheets. Beat the egg white
in a small bowl with a fork for 10 seconds.
With a pastry brush, spread egg white over
each tortilla point. Mix seeds together and
sprinkle on each point.
Bake tortillas until slightly brown around the
edges, approximately 15 minutes. Let cool and
serve. Stores up to a week in an airtight container.
Makes 40 tortilla points.