Try these healthy showstoppers

by Dr. Krystal White
Contributing writer
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

‘Tis the season to indulge. Most of our celebrations center on sharing dishes that nourish us emotionally and wow our taste buds. We crave the comfort and connection that holiday eating provides, but also want to avoid sidetracking our physical health.

Eating clean, choosing whole foods with few artificial ingredients, and indulging doesn’t have to be a challenge during the season. With a to-do list that rivals Santa’s, we’ve got less energy to figure out what to tote to the office party or a friend’s get together. We want nice food that won’t leave us feeling naughty. These simple, clean dishes are easy to carry with you and will ensure a round of appreciative applause.

All of these recipes are gluten and dairy free.

When You’re In Charge Of A Salad:
Smoky, sweet, and crunchy eggplant stacks wow crowds expecting a simple salad. The vegetable and fruit combination highlights one of the best dressings for winter produce. Don’t be surprised if you are asked to bring another salad next time!

Roasted eggplant, walnut and pear salad with honey vinaigrette
Serves 12
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

• Slice three small eggplants into round disks. Sprinkle salt on eggplant slices and let rest for 15 minutes. Turn eggplant slices over, sprinkle with more salt and let rest for another 15 minutes.

• Blot moisture out of eggplant slices with a paper towel and pat dry. In a bowl, combine 1/3 cup quality balsamic vinegar and 2/3 cup high quality olive oil, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons honey. Season then with 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

• Dunk eggplant slices one by one into vinegar mixture, then shake a bit to allow the excess to drip off. Place onto baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

• Slice three pears. To prevent browning, brush them with the end of a sliced lemon.

• Place two bags of rucola on base of serving dish. Layer eggplants on serving dish, and then pears on top.

• To serve, drizzle remaining balsamic vinaigrette mixture on top of eggplant stacks. Then, sprinkle nutmeg on top. Sprinkle toasted walnuts around the stacks.

Jarred Apple Pumpkin Soup
Jarred Apple Pumpkin Soup

When You’re In Charge Of A Starter:
Nothing is more comforting than soup paired with thick, country bread and honey. A perfect start to a holiday feast, this light, but creamy soup offers layers of flavor as the stars of holiday fare join forces to have guests’ mouths watering.

Jarred Apple Pumpkin Soup
Serves 12
• Heat large soup pan over medium heat, adding 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ground ginger, each, and 1/4 teaspoon all spice. Stir quickly for two minutes.

• Add 1/2 cup quality olive oil to pan, and stir in spices. Then add three diced apples. Stir fry for only one minute.

• Add three cups of pumpkin with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper each, and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Bring mixture to a slight bubble, then turn heat to low.

• Turn off heat, cool and store overnight (allows the flavors to deepen and blend). The best way to store the soup are in half pint jam jars. Remove them from the fridge the next day, place in a tote box to carry. Each glass jar can be microwaved individually, or you can place in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Cranberry Pecan Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa
Cranberry Pecan Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa

When You’re In Charge Of A Side:
This recipe transforms the despised vegetable of our youth into crisp, sweet bites of comfort. Savory and sweet, this dish features an ancient grain coupled with antioxidant powerhouses. Perfect to pair with roast turkey.

Cranberry Pecan Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa
Serves 8
• Prepare eight servings of quinoa according to package directions. Spoon into medium sized baking ware.

• Remove the stems from 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts with a knife. Chop or food process until the sprouts resemble thin slivers.

• Heat medium sized skillet over medium high heat with 1/4 cup olive oil. Once warm (but not smoking) pour in sprouts, and stir vigorously for a minute. Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Remove Brussels sprouts to another pan.

• Keeping skillet hot, add in 1/2 cup pecan pieces. Season with allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Stir until slightly toasted.

• Layer Brussels sprouts on top of quinoa. Sprinkle with candied pecans and 1/3 cup dried cranberries.

• Bake in preheated oven on low for 15 minutes. Drizzle oil on top and salt. Guests can also enjoy cold (and children will eat this with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar!)

When You’re In Charge Of A Dessert:
Love carrot cake? This treat tastes creamy, crunchy and sweet all in a tangy bite. Getting your veggies on in dessert form is always a bonus. Serve this up in a microwaveable glass bowl, either warm or cold, adding whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top for a perfect touch. Alternatively, serve these individual jam jars on a potluck table, where it is sure to be the star on Christmas or New Year’s Eve morning.

Carrot Cake Oats And Apples
Makes 12 servings
• In a large sized pot over medium heat, whisk together 4 cups almond milk and one can coconut milk. Add in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bring to a bubble and then lower heat. Allow this mixture to thicken over 10 minutes.

• Add in 6 cups finely grated carrot (about 6 large sized carrots), 3 cups gluten free old fashioned oats, two diced Granny Smith apples. Cook on low, with lid on pot, for 8-10 minutes.

• Add in 1/3 cup quality maple syrup, 1/3 cup golden raisins and 1/2 cup dried coconut.

• Portion out into bowls or jam jars. Drizzle maple syrup and slivered almonds on top and serve.

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