Live, love, leap: Healthy holiday recipes

By Ryan Howes | Dec 20, 2017

The aromatic bounty so effortlessly perfected by my mother and grandmother is nostalgically wafting in the air. The holiday season warms my thoughts and belly. If memory serves me, I watched this orchestra seemingly for days as a child. Each dish was perfect, but I didn’t realize until adulthood how stressful it was to prepare such a huge feast, from scratch, for a large family. This Live, love, leap article is geared toward making simple, delicious and healthy holiday recipes that take less than 15 minutes to prepare and serve. My goal is to minimize stress and time spent in the kitchen and to maximize time spent with family and friends while eating nourishing, home-cooked food.

There are two electric kitchen appliances that turn a home cook into a healthy, fast food expediter: the food processor and blender. A Cuisinart food processor will do just fine. A high-powered blender deserves some explaining, though. They are expensive, but the investment comes with excellent customer service, product replacement and superior results; in fact, these appliances have changed my clients' perspective on home cooking.

The two top performers are Vitamix and Blendtec, which get just about any job done well and fast. A far less expensive option is the Ninja. This product requires more patience and time than the aforementioned products. My recommendations – get a Vitamix or Blendtec; better yet, put it on your Christmas wish list.

Without further ado, here are healthy holiday recipes. Make these recipes healthier by sourcing local and organic options.

Butternut Squash Soup – 10 minutes – Serves 6

Ingredients:

1) 6 cups of water

2) 1 large butternut squash

3) 1 tsp. turmeric

4) 1 tsp. cinnamon

5) 1/2 tsp. cardamom

6) 2 Tbsp. honey

7) Salt and pepper to taste

8) Walnuts

Instructions: Bring water to boil. Peel and halve squash. Scoop out seeds and chop into medium-sized pieces. Place ingredients 1 through 7 into blender and mix until creamy. Chop walnuts and serve with walnut garnish center. Drizzle extra honey around the walnuts for added sweetness and visual effect.

Raw Cranberry Sauce – 10 minutes – Serves 6

Ingredients:

1) 1 bag of cranberries

2) ½ cup of raw evaporated cane juice

3) 1 apple, cored and chopped into cubes

4) 2 Tbsp. lemon juice

5) ½ orange

6) ½ cup of raspberries, strawberries or blueberries

Instructions: Combine in food processor until desired consistency. Serve chilled. FYI, this is my mother’s recipe and likely the only recipe that did not take a day to make. Love you, Mom.

Sweet Potato Latkes – 15 minutes – Serves 6

Ingredients:

1) 2 large sweet potatoes

2) 4 medium or 3 large eggs

3) 3 Tbsp. olive oil

4) ½ tsp. garlic powder

5) ½ tsp. onion powder

6) Salt and pepper to taste

7) 3 cups of apple sauce

Instructions: Turn skillet on medium heat. Peel sweet potato skins and grate the flesh using a standing cheese grater (a sharp one) into a mixing bowl. Add eggs and all spices. Combine until well mixed. Put one Tbsp. of olive oil into skillet and spoon three to four mounds of mixture into skillet, flattening into three-inch diameter, half-inch tall rounds. Cook until lightly brown on both sides. Use multiple skillets for faster production or use the single skillet method, adding one Tbsp. of olive oil before each round of frying. Serve. *Be aware that olive oil is a low- to medium-heat oil. If the pan overheats, the oil oxidizes and turns to smoke, which is unhealthy to breathe and to consume.

Purple Cabbage Slaw – 7 minutes – Serves 6

Ingredients:

1) 5 cups cabbage

2) 2 large carrots

3) ¼ cup red onion

4) 2 Tbsp. olive oil

5) 1Tbsp. lemon juice

6) 2 Tbsp. honey

7) Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Cut ingredients 1 through 3 into medium-sized pieces and place into food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse several times until the mixture begins to bind together. Serve.

OMG Stuffing – 15 minutes – Serves 6

Ingredients:

1) 1 lb. brussel sprouts

2) ½ lb. mushrooms (your choice)

3) 3 cups bread crumbs

4) ¼ cup olive oil + a splash

5) 3 garlic cloves

6) Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Rinse sprouts and place in blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture binds together. Add a splash of olive oil to skillet, turn on medium heat and cook for seven minutes. Stuff this into your bird or directly into your mouth.

Last but not least, dessert; also known as the unhealthy holiday food. However, this particular dessert item is so healthy and delicious you could eat it for breakfast. I have.

Chocolate Mousse Pie – 10 minutes – Serves Garfield plus one

Ingredients:

1) 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2) 1 package of silken tofu

3) ¼ cup nut butter (peanut, almond or cashew)

4) ½ tsp. cinnamon

5) Piecrust

6) Optional maple syrup for sweeter flavor

Instructions: empty bag of chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl, or saucepan depending on your preference. Heat until creamy. Add to food processor, as well as the remaining ingredients. Pour into pre-made pie crust, refrigerate and serve chilled. There are gluten-free piecrusts at your local Hannaford. Also, forgo piecrust altogether and serve in small bowls or glasses.

We are in the home stretch to solidifying a family meal plan. Hopefully these healthy holiday options find you and yours well, low-stress and ready to bring on the holiday cheer. Enjoy the blessings of each other and the abundance of giving and receiving. Cheers, from your Live, love, leap guide to living a healthy, happy and prosperous life.

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