Healthy Holiday Hits

By Lorin Peters – December 1, 2015

During the holidays most of us look forward to the same signature dishes that we crave as soon as the seasons turn to fall. Each family has their own traditions, but I find that holiday parties and family gatherings are overflowing with casseroles and calories. Why can’t we make something worth craving, but is not going to increase our waist size? Oh wait, we can! The following recipes are new takes on very “typical” holiday dishes that have been modified to be healthy without sacrificing flavor.


Pumpkin Spiced Maple Poached Cranberries

Instead of cranberry sauce

3 ½  cup fresh cranberries (usually 1 
bag from store)
2 cup maple syrup
1 cup honey
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 tsp ground cinnamon

1. In a medium/large glass container with a lid, arrange cranberries into a shallow layer (just to ensure that the cranberries are fully submerged in liquid).
2. In a small sauce pot, bring the maple syrup, honey, and spices just up to a boil and whisk together. 
3. Remove from heat and let cool for about a minute.
4. Pour hot maple mixture over fresh cranberries, and cover with a tight fitting lid and let sit in a warm part of your kitchen. Do not put in the refrigerator!
5. Let poach for approximately 1 hour. 

*This dish can be made ahead of time. When ready to serve, just warm maple/cranberry mixture in microwave or on the stovetop. 


Charred Mushroom & Green Bean Salad with Toasted Almonds

Instead of green bean casserole

Green Beans:
2 lbs fresh green beans (pole bean, french bean, etc.)
1 lb hen of woods, oyster, or other mushroom of your 
choice left into large pieces (washed and trimmed)
2 cups toasted almonds, chopped (I like to leave mine 
in large chunks)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. The water should be so salty it tastes like the ocean.
2. Wash and trim ends of green beans.
3. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. 
4. Place green beans into boiling water and continue to boil until slightly tender, but still has a crunch to them.
5. Drain off water and immediately submerge green beans into ice water.*
6. Heat oven to broil.
7. While green beans are cooling in the ice bath, arrange large chunks of mushrooms on a sheet tray lined with foil or parchment. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
8. Broil mushrooms until slightly charred on ends, set aside.
9. Drain and dry green beans and place in a large bowl. Toss with mustard vinaigrette and charred mushrooms. Feel free to add more salt and pepper if necessary.
10. Place into serving dish and top with chopped almonds.

6 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
3 tbsp. champagne vinegar (can also use red wine or apple cider vinegars)
1 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together until combined. 

*This process is called “blanching,” and it allows you to cook the vegetable to desired tenderness. The ice water stops the cooking of the vegetable to ensure it keeps its color and texture.


Vanilla & Maple Roasted Yams with Toasted Pecans & Pumpkin Seeds

To replace mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows

For nut topping:
1 cup toasted pecans
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tsp. honey

1. To toast nuts, spread evenly on a sheet tray with parchment or foil. Toast for 8 to 10 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring occasionally.
2. After allowing the nuts to completely cool, pulse in a food processor just a few times until broken apart, but still larger chunks. If you only have a small food processor, it is better to do two batches, one cup at a time to make sure pieces stay uniform in size.
3. Place nuts in a medium bowl and drizzle honey over top. Using your hands, toss the nuts with the honey to create small clusters.

For yam mixture:
4 large yams, peeled and diced small/medium size
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. maple syrup
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract (or scrape the inside of 1 vanilla bean)

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Drizzle olive oil over top of diced yams and toss to coat.
3. Spread diced yams evenly on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or foil. Roast yams until tender.
4. Once yams are cooked through, turn on your broiler and broil the yams until slightly charred on top.
5. Remove yams from oven and immediately place into a large mixing bowl. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla.
6. Using a hand or stand mixer, mix the yams on low until all incorporated and the yam chunks are smooth or to your desired consistency (I prefer mine to be a little bit chunky).
7. Spread yams into a serving dish.
8. If serving immediately, top with nut mixture and serve. If saving for later, warm dish with yams in the oven at 350 degrees until hot throughout, then top with nut mixture.



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