There are many ways that you make you holiday meals delicious AND healthy! Let’s face it, with the craziness and stress of the holiday season, we need all the nutrients we can get to stay healthy through it all.
Your holiday spread may not look like the one you grew up with – but change can a be a good thing. Especially if it means improving your health and passing that on to future generations.
It’s time to start some new holiday traditions! Find new favorite meals and yes, even desserts! It’s easier than you might think.
Try rethinking some of you favorites. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Sweet potatoes – they’re packed with nutrients and taste sooo good. BUT, do they really need to covered in marshmallows or burried in brown sugar. Of course not! They are quite good all on their own, but if you want something a little more decadent, then whip you baked sweet potatoes with cashew cream, sprinkle them with chopped pecans or walnuts and voila! A yummy side that everyone will love.
Green bean casserole – ditch the canned cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. Seriously people! Who made the rule that the green beans had be a soggy mess, dripping in goo? Instead, saute your green beans in vegetable broth, add some shallots and either slivered almonds or pine nuts.
Salad – yep, it is rarely seen on most holiday tables. That needs to change! Make a delicious massaged kale salad (no oil please). Packed with phytonutrients, kale is a real power house. Lemon juice, avocado, fresh basil and other chopped vegetables of your choice (tomatoes, carrots, radishes, etc) – that could be a meal in itself!
Lets talk desserts…it’s everybodies favorite part, right? Portion size is the key here, even when the desserts are “healthy” – you cannot eat the entire pumpkin pie just because it’s vegan. sorry.
Here are a few healthier options for desserts:
Baked Apple or Pears sprinkled with cinnamon, raisins and chopped nuts. Yum!
And for those of you that MUST have pumpkin pie, here’s a recipe from our friends at Straight Up Foods:
Pumpkin Pie with Date Nut Crust
Pecan-Date Pie Crust
Ingredients 1¼ cups rolled oats ½ cup pecan halves (2 ounces) ½ teaspoon cinnamon 5 Medjool dates (2½ ounces) 1½ tablespoons non-dairy milk
Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle position. Place the oats, pecans and cinnamon in a food processor and blend until ground, about 30 to 40 seconds. This should be pretty finely ground but don’t worry if it’s not as fine as packaged flour. A little texture is okay (see photos below).
2. Add the chopped dates and blend for about 1 minute, until the mixture starts to clump slightly. Add the non-dairy milk, and blend until the mixture balls up like dough (this will happen quickly).
3. You could press the dough into the pie pan with your fingers, which may take a little longer, or you can roll it out with a rolling pin. I like to roll it out: place the dough on a flat surface (you do not need to chill it). I like to use a flexible cutting board for this because it makes it easier to transfer the rolled out crust to the pie pan. You can also use a big piece of parchment paper under the dough. You don’t really need to flour the surface before rolling out the dough, but you can if you like.
4. Place the ball of dough into the center of the cutting board and roll out from the center, turning the board each time to roll away from you. Roll out until the dough is about an eighth of an inch thick, pretty much as thin as you can get it without it breaking and making it difficult to handle. Roll out into a circle that is slightly bigger that the pie pan (to account for the sloped edges of the pan). You can also place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough while you’re rolling it out. If the circle is irregular, just borrow a piece from another area and press it in. This dough is pretty forgiving and you can easily add patches as needed.
5. After rolling out the dough. turn the rolled out crust over and gently place it over a standard size pie pan (not a deep dish), peeling off the parchment paper or flexible cutting board (that was under the dough); a tapered spatula can also be helpful in easing the dough off the cutting board. Ease the crust into the contours of the pie pan gently. Lightly press it into place. Trim any edges, and do a decorative edge if you like; just don’t wrap the crust over the edge since this will make it harder to cut after it’s cooked. You do not need to poke it with a knife or weight it down.
6. Place the pie pan on a metal cookie sheet or pizza pan (this helps the bottom of the crust cook better), and then place a piece of aluminum foil over the entire crust, just slightly tucking down the corners. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Ingredients 8 Medjool dates (4 ounces), pitted and chopped ¾ cup non-dairy milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ cup rolled oats, ground into flour (or ¼ cup flour) 1¼ teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground clove 1 can (15 ounces) cooked pumpkin (not “pumpkin pie mix”), or 1½ cups
Instructions 1. Lower heat of oven to 350 degrees. Place the dates, the non-dairy milk, and the vanilla extract into a blender. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, to allow the dates to soften.
2. In a medium-large mixing bowl, add the oat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove and mix with a fork. Add the pumpkin.
3. Blend the dates, non-dairy milk and vanilla on high speed until smooth. Add this to the bowl of pumpkin and spices. Using an electric beater, blend until smooth. Scrape into the pre-baked pie crust and smooth out evenly.
4. Using the foil from baking the pie crust, create a few 2-inch strips and gently wrap them around the top edge of the pie (so that the crust does not get overcooked or burnt, see photo below). Place back on the baking sheet that you used to cook the crust. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
5. Remove and cool. The texture of pumpkin pie benefits from a long sitting period, so I recommend making it the night before you’re serving it. By morning it should be set up nicely. If you need to serve it the same day, make it first thing in the morning or let it sit for a few hours first (otherwise it may be like pudding). You could also put it in the refrigerator. If you want to serve it warm, thoroughly cool it first, then put it back into the oven on a low setting (200 degrees) to warm it.
Eat Healthy & Thrive