Holiday Foods: Keeping it Healthy

By Brandi Monson

Thanksgiving is almost here, then on to Hanukah and Christmas and finally New Year’s eve. What with all of these holidays and their accompanied delicious yet not so nutritious foods, how can you keep your foods healthy?

I thought I’d share some of my favorite tricks here and hope you would do the same.

First, we use a farm raised turkey for our holiday meals. Forgoing the brine and all it’s ‘nasty’ ingredients that store bought turkeys donate to the meal. I also make my dressing from homemade cornbread and leave out the processed stuff.

Our sweet potatoes are dressed up with a drizzle of maple syrup. nutmeg and chopped pecans as opposed to marshmallows. My favorite cranberry sauce is simply honey and cranberries, brought to a boil and throw in some sliced almonds. Very good, just sweet enough to enhance the cranberry but not overly sweet.

For our pies, I use honey as a sweetner instead of sugar. You can omit white sugar and all it’s ill and substitute with honey, agave, sucanat or turbanado sugar, all offering an improvement in taste and health!

For those yummy appetizers, I make my own cream cheese. Called labneh, it’s yogurt cheese really and the flavor is divine. Fresh made labneh includes the cultures from the yogurt so you are getting a healthy dose of flora to help you digest all of those holiday goodies. To make labneh simply pour plain yogurt into a cloth lined colander and let it drip until all of the whey is off the cheese. I then tie mine up and let it hang a bit longer as I like a firmer cheese. This cheese works well in any recipe calling for store bought cream cheese such as cheese balls, with hot pepper jelly  & crackers, and I like to use it as a cream cheese frosting for my delicious pumpkin cake or roll. Now I’m hungry! Plus it’s great mixed with some dill seasoning and rolled into a ball over pecans for an easy cheese ball.

Another simple healthy trick is to use virgin coconut oil instead of refined vegetable oils to cook with and in. Great for pie crusts and cakes, although you may have to liquify it for pouring into recipes.

Farm fresh eggs are also an easy way to make your baked goods more healthy. Farm fresh anything! 😉 And choosing organic ingedients boosts the flavor, nutrition and eliminates all those harmful pesticides, etc.

So that’s my short list! Please share your recipes, tricks and helpful hints with all of us in the comments. Can’t wait to get some new ideas and try some great new holiday foods!


2 thoughts on “Holiday Foods: Keeping it Healthy

  1. Thanks for the great tips! I’ll have to try the yogurt cheese with my soy yogurt and see if it works…
    One thing I would add is ‘Don’t forget the nuts!’ I love to put a bowl of nuts out on the table and if my girls fill up on those oh well! I’d rather it be a bowl of nuts than a bowl of candy!
    Nuts are full of good fats and protein. Did you know that Almonds have all 8 essential amino acids in them? As well as a good dose of calcium. Walnuts have a good dose of Omega 3.
    Also, I like to add hempseeds to just about everything I can. Hempseeds are 30% easily digested protein and have a 3:1 ration of Omega 6 to Omega 3. This is considered the ‘perfect’ ratio of these EFAs. I like to make ‘energy’ balls that have hempseeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, peanut butter (sometimes cashew or almond butter), coconut (unsweetened), dates, oats, and a bit of cocoa and maple syrup with a splash of almond milk. This is all whirled together in the foodprocessor, then rolled into balls or put into square pan, chilled, then cut into squares. They are so yummy and oh so good for you! My girls have no idea that when they beg for these, I’d gladly give them some without the begging! These will surely be out at my Christmas snackie table when the WHOLE family will be here!

  2. Those sound really good. I’ll have to try them sometime. Very similar to my fruit balls w/a few extra yummy ingredients. Thanks!

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