Tag: healthy recipes

Six Healthy Holiday Fare

Six Healthy Holiday Fare

I recently read that the average American gains one to two pounds during the winter holidays, from Thanksgiving through New Years. With the hearty traditional dishes and scrumptious desserts that usually grace the dinner table for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays, that weight gain is to be expected. It is not even necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that most Americans never lose the pound or two they gained over the holidays, which means that they could gain one to two pounds every year just from their holiday feasting.

What can we do to avoid the holiday weight gain? Moderate exercise and portion control are always recommended, but perhaps you can substitute a not-so-healthy traditional dish with a healthier alternative.

Here are six delicious alternatives to some classic holiday dishes that will let you enjoy yourself.

Fresh Green Beans

Instead of the fat and calorie heavy green bean casserole, serve up fresh green beans. Buy two pounds of green beans from the store, trim the ends, and cut in half or thirds (if you don’t want long beans).

Steam covered on high in a large pan with a few centimeters of water. When the water is almost gone, test the green beans to see if the texture is soft enough. If you prefer softer, add a little more water, cover, and wait until the water is almost gone again. If the beans are to your liking, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the beans with onion and garlic.

Add salt and other seasonings (parsley, crushed red pepper, and basil) to taste. You can add a dash of soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (gluten-free) or a bit of lemon juice as well. Serve up nice and hot!

Oven-roasted Sweet Potatoes

Can it be the holidays without mashed potatoes? Certainly! You can replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes for a healthier option, but don’t drown it in milk, butter or maple sugar and marshmallows. Slice the sweet potatoes in half-inch rounds or one-inch cubes (depending on the look you want), add some onion, drizzle with a little olive oil, add salt and sage, toss well, and roast in the oven until edges are browned or crispy.

Not only is this dish gorgeous, it is delicious!

Veggie Stuffing

Instead of getting your stuffing from a box, make your own at home and add some extra veggies to it! All you need is day old bread – go even healthier by using a whole wheat, cornbread, or gluten-free bread of your choice.

If you want to limit or avoid the bread, why not try substituting half of the bread with a squash (like butternut), using a brown or wild rice or even quinoa?

Saute the veggies of your choice in a little bit of olive oil. I really like onion, celery, and carrots but I have seen people add water chestnuts, brussel sprouts, other veggies, cranberries and even apples! Mix the veggies with your bread or bread substitute, add vegetable broth and traditional stuffing spices (salt, sage, thyme, pepper, etc.), and mix well.

Pop it in the oven to bake!

Oven-roasted Veggie Delight

Not into the candied or glazed vegetables? Trying to limit the extra sugar (and extra pounds)? Substitute the sugary glazed veggies with savory oven-roasted Veggie Delight! All you need is parsnips, carrots, red onion, and brussel sprouts. Cut the brussel sprouts in four (half and then half again) and then cut the remaining veggies in a similar size.

Drizzle with olive oil, lightly season with salt, sage, thyme, and basil, and toss. Put it in the oven to roast.

Spinach and Butternut Squash

Another delicious veggie combo you could try is butternut squash (cubed) cooked with some olive oil, fresh spinach, and dried cranberries. Sprinkling with some salt and pepper, and you have a wonderful (and colorful) side dish.

Need more protein? Sprinkle in some rinsed black beans.

Cauliflower Risotto

Looking to replace the carb-heavy potatoes and/or stuffing? Why not give this Cauliflower Risotto a try? It uses cauliflower, leeks, garlic, quinoa and a broth made from miso, nutritional yeast, and veggie broth to create a hearty and fluffy risotto.

 

So what is your favorite holiday dish? How do you try to substitute more healthy options into your holiday meals?

Five bean sweet potato chili

Five bean sweet potato chili

This last weekend our church’s Pathfinder Club held a fundraising event, a Pioneer Festival. It was a fun mixture of a fall festival with stations for the Pathfinders to earn and/or demonstrate various parts of the Pioneering Honor. Some of the stations included corn husk doll making, butter making, and more. We also had plenty of games like Tic-Tac-Pumpkin, tug-of-war, three-legged race, needle in a haystack (a large crochet needle) and hayride.

As for food and refreshments there was old fashion lemonade, popcorn, cornbread, three different types of chili, and funnel cakes.

I made one of the chili and was pleasantly surprised with the amount that was eaten. I was a bit nervous as I had never made this chili before, but I have to say that it was delicious! (It could have used a tad more sea salt, but I did not want to make it too salty for those guests who are watching their sodium intake.)

I decided to share my original recipe here with you.

Five Bean Sweet Potato Chili by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Gluten-free, vegan

Ingredients

1 can kidney beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can black beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can pinto beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can white/navy beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can of crushed tomatoes (28oz)
1 can tomato paste (6oz)
1 can of green chiles (4oz)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 bell peppers
1 medium-to-large sweet potato
1 medium-to-large yellow/sweet onion
Sea Salt
Cumin
Chili powder
Paprika

Instructions

Chop the fresh vegetables (onion, bell peppers, and sweet potato) in large chunks.

Open, drain and rinse the five cans of beans and add beans to your crockpot. Rinse quinoa well in a very fine strainer and add to crockpot. Open the other cans (tomatoes, tomato paste, green chilis) and the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot. Add your spices (sea salt, cumin, chili powder and paprika) and stir until all ingredients are well mixed.

Cook chili on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

Servings: A lot! You will have leftovers so enjoy your chili over the course of a week. Leftovers can be put in freezer-safe containers and frozen.


Allergy Warning

Please check all ingredients for possible allergens before preparing for someone with a food allergy or sensitivity.

The nice thing about chili is that you can so easily substitute ingredients to meet your personal taste preferences or to accommodate many food sensitivities/allergies. I intentionally avoided gluten and corn, though the canned tomatoes and chiles do contain citric acid that can be derived from corn so the chili is not guaranteed corn-free.

If I were to use fresh tomatoes and chiles instead (I had considered it but decided to save a little money), then the chili would have definitely been corn-free. If you truly want to know exactly what is in the chili, you could use dry beans instead of can, but be sure to soak them thoroughly overnight and rinse well before cooking.

I had not thought about putting a sweet potato or quinoa in chili before, but I saw both used in two different chili recipes online when I was doing a little researching, and being the daring person that I am, I decided to use both. Also, the bell peppers I used were orange so the finished chili looked quite beautiful and delicious with the bright orange of the peppers and sweet potato chunks. There were numerous compliments on the chili.

Chili is the perfect food for the crockpot. You can cook the chili on low over night or while you are at work or on high for a few hours earlier in the day and serve nice and hot for dinner.

When the chili is served, you can add more sea salt to taste and/or top with your favorite chili toppings. I like putting chili on a cup of brown rice and topping with a sprinkle of vegan cheese. Enjoy!