Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Says Healthy-er Can't Taste Good?

Okay, so I have to admit that when it comes to the holidays the last thing I am worried about is counting calories. I'm more a "moderation" girl than a "no bread and cheese" girl. Thanksgiving is the only day of the year I EVER feel over-full and Christmas means all of those delectable dishes we only taste once in 365 days.

Since 2011 has been such a challenging year and I have committed myself to taking the 2012 bull by the horns and changing my life in a complete one-eighty why should I concern myself with healthful recipes at the holidays? Maybe I want to set a good example. Could it be that I want to impress my friends with flavorful and healthy food? Perhaps my intent to completely change in 2012 needs to get a good start, or I need to send 2011 off on a healthier note. No matter. Here are some of the "better for you" recipes I will be serving this year. Enjoy!

Ricotta Dip for Fruit

1/2 Cup low fat Ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 6-ounce container vanilla low fat yogurt
6 cups cubed cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and strawberries

In a blender or food processor, combine ricotta, cream cheese, orange juice and powdered sugar. Cover and blend or process until smooth. In a medium bowl stir together cheese mixture and yogurt. If desired, cover and chill dip up to 24 hours. Serve with assorted fresh fruit.

Chili-Toasted Pecans with Dried Cherries

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
2 cups pecan halves (8 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3/4 cup dried cherries or a combination of raisins and dried cherries (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl combine oil and hot pepper sauce. Add pecans; toss to coat evenly. Set aside. In a small bowl combine chili powder, pepper, salt, cumin and oregano. Add to pecans; toss well to coat. Place pecans in a single layer in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake fro 12-15 minutes or until toasted, stirring every five minutes. Stir in dried cherries. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Praline-topped Brie

1 each 13-ounce round Brie or Camembert cheese
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Apple slices and/o toasted French bread slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cheese in a shallow, ovenproof serving dish or pie plate. In a small bowl stir together orange marmalade and brown sugar. Spread on top of cheese. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly. Serve with apple and/or bread slices.

I must thank Better Homes and Gardens for these lovely recipes, but for my own personal tips, well, here you go:

  • Always go for the whole grain. Be it french bread, mustard or cereal - whole grain is better for you.
  • If a recipe calls for crackers or bread, improvise with sliced fruit or vegetables. Serve the brie, as mentioned above, with apple slices. Serve that family-favorite cheese ball with sliced cucumbers, zucchini, celery or carrot slices. 
  • If you're serving a pasta dish, even spaghetti, lighten it up by using julienned squash (zucchini or summer) or take advantage of the fall harvest and use spaghetti squash. 

The best advice I can offer is don't overdo it. Enjoy yourself. Pamper your palette. Don't drink and drive. And if you do eat that one extra cookie, forgive yourself then get up and go for a walk the next day.

Happy Holidays my friends. Feast!


Pam Asberry said...

These sound great, Lindy! Thanks for sharing! :-)