Healthy Holiday Meals

Bringing something to the family party this holiday? Break up the usual menu and add in a few healthy, crowd-pleasing options.

Spinach dumpling appetizer

© Richard Semik | Dreamstime

Appetizer

Impress guests and family with a five-ingredient appetizer. For an easy recipe for success, try cheese and spinach balls. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and washing and cutting 6 cups of fresh spinach leaves. Place the prepped spinach in in a large mixing bowl with 3 cups boiling water and set aside for 3 minutes. Once cooked, rinse the spinach with cold tap water and drain using your hands to squeeze out excess.

Once drained, add 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of shredded or grated cheese, chopped herbs and 1 cup of panko gluten-free crumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste before mixing the bowl of ingredients. Mix everything until it is well combined and add panko if necessary. Shape about 30 balls and place on a non-stick cookie tray covered with parchment paper. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden on the top.

Stuffed butternut squash

© Svetlana Kolpakova | Dreamstime

Entrée/Side

Stuffed butternut squash with quinoa, cranberries and kale is a beautiful, hearty and healthy side to bring to the holiday gathering. Sauté low-sodium beans, either black or garbanzo, with kale, or spinach, and oil, salt and garlic. Add in some cranberries for color and a touch of sweetness.

Follow the instructions for the quinoa, add in sautéed vegetables and stir everything together. Cut an acorn, butternut or spaghetti squash in half and hollow out the squash. Be sure to leave a thick enough shell to hold the quinoa filling. Add in the stuffing and cook in the oven at 425 degrees for 45–55 minutes. Check your work and fluff the quinoa filling to make sure everything cooks evenly.

Dessert

Freshly baked apple crisp with fresh apples and autumn

© Stephanie Frey | Dreamstime

A good go-to for a healthy dessert option is always something fruit based. Bring a healthy apple crisp to the family party or surprise your guests with an a la mode option. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and peel and 5 granny smith apples and dice evenly.

In a large bowl, toss apple slices with 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Mix well and pour apple mixture into a greased 9-inch by 9-inch baking dish.

Next, for the crumble topping, mix 1 cup of old-fashioned oats, ½ cup almond flour, ¼ cup of chopped nuts (optional), ¼ cup of coconut oil or butter, ¼ cup maple syrup and cinnamon and salt to taste. Mix the crumble topping together and pour into the baking dish on top of apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 40–45 minutes until apples are soft, covering pan loosely with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent from over-browning.