HEALTHY HOLIDAY MEALS - Don't Feel Guilty After The Meal!!

Posted by Beth Hartman

Part of those great holiday memories are the meals we share with family and friends. Why not serve up a smarter menu this year with delicious, well-balanced dishes sure to please everyone at your table, while keeping everyone on track with a healthy life style.  This would be a great way to begin the New Year for yourself and everyone you care about.

Food is at the center of most celebrations—especially around the holidays. These recipes are a fresh approach to typical high-calorie holiday fare, cutting back on carbs and unhealthy fats and rethinking seasonal favorites. Use these recipes to create delicious, balanced meals that will help you and your loved ones stay on track without feeling like the festivities are passing you by. 

 There are meals during the holiday season that are steeped in tradition. The one below can usually be found being offered on Christmas Eve.

 Seven-Fish Stew

Makes 4–6 servings ---
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small fennel bulb, cored, diced; set aside fronds for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch crushed red-pepper flakes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine (or vermouth or Pernod)
1 (28 oz) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand-crushed
1 (8 oz) bottle clam juice
1 qt seafood stock
3 dried bay leaves
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
12 mussels, debearded and scrubbed
12 medium shrimp, peeled and devined
8 oz whitefish (like cod or halibut), cut into 1-inch chunks
¼ lb bay scallops, abductor muscle removed
¼ lb calamari, cut into ½-inch rings
2 king crab legs (not claws), meat removed
Lemon wedges for serving

 1/ Preheat Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add oil and sauté onion, fennel, salt, black pepper, and garlic; cook until tender, about 8–10 minutes. Stir in red pepper. Add tomato paste; stir and cook 3–4 minutes. Add wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add tomatoes, clam juice, seafood stock, and bay leaves; lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 20–25 minutes.

2/ Add in clams, cover the pot, and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add in mussels, shrimp, and fish; cook for 3–4 minutes, then add remaining seafood. The scallops, calamari, and crab will take about 2 minutes to cook. Serve with lemon wedges, and top with fennel fronds to garnish.

Per Serving

Calories: 280

Fat: 5g
Saturated fat: 0.6g
Carbs: 11g
Fiber: 1.7g
Protein: 37g


Roasted Pork Loin with Apples, Fennel, and Onions
You can look forward to having this meal anytime but since it is a pork dish, it would be a great tie-in to New Year’s day since quite a few cultures deem it lucky to serve pork on this day.

Makes 4–6 servings
Tart apples make the perfect counterpoint to savory pork loin. Once cooked, slice the pork totally off the bone or cut between to create individual chops, then serve on top of braised vegetables or smother the roast with them. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds for a pop of green.

4 lb bone-in, center-cut pork loin
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch slices from root to tip
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds reserved for garnish, bulb cored and cut into ¼-inch slices from root to stalk
1 Granny Smith apple, quartered, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
2 to 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 sprigs each of rosemary, thyme, and sage
1 cup dry white wine (like sauvignon blanc)
¾ cup apple-cider vinegar
1/ Season pork loin generously with salt and pepper; let sit for 15–20 minutes. Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 4000.
2/ Heat a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium heat; add in oil and pork loin, fat side down. Brown loin on all sides (including the ends), 6–8 minutes in total.
3/ Remove pork loin to a plate, pouring off all but 1 tbsp of fat. Add onion, fennel, apple, garlic, and herbs and stir. Once onions and fennel begin to brown, add wine, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Add in vinegar and nestle the pork, fat side up, into pan. Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the center of loin. Place roast into oven, and set the thermometer to go off at 145°. (It should take 75–90 minutes.)
4/ Once cooked, place roast on a cutting board and loosely tent with foil; allow meat to rest for 20 minutes. Discard herb sprigs before serving.

Per Serving

Calories: 208
Fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 2g
Carbs: 4.5g
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 20g


Red-Wine-Braised Red Cabbage
This is a great side dish to any meal and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Sure to be a welcome addition to any meal as a side.

Makes 4–6 servings
2 lb purple cabbage, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
1¼ cup dry red wine
¾ cup red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey



1/ Place cabbage in a large bowl and season generously, massaging salt into cabbage.
2/ Add oil and thyme to a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot; set over medium heat. When oil is hot and you can smell the thyme, add in cabbage. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
3/ Add wine, vinegar, and honey, partially cover the pot, and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook until cabbage is tender and almost all of the liquid is reduced, 25–30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove thyme sprigs before serving.

Per Serving
Calories: 108
Saturated fat: 0.5g
Carbs: 20g
Fiber: 4g


Slow-Roasted Herb-Crusted Tenderloin

Nothing says hearty then a cut of beef. Enjoy the way these ingredients marry their flavors.
Makes 4–6 servings


Horseradish cream
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup light mayonnaise
3 tbsp prepared horseradish
¼ tsp garlic powder


2½ lb center-cut filet of beef, brought to room temperature
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
20 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped (3 tbsp)
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped (3 tbsp)
2 scallions, roots discarded, finely minced


1/ Combine all horseradish cream ingredients; refrigerate. Tie filet in 4–5 places with butcher’s twine so the filet cooks evenly and maintains its shape. Preheat oven to 250°.

2/ Season filet with salt and pepper. Mix mustard, vinegar, and oil and rub mixture all over filet. Mix thyme, rosemary, and scallions together on a plate and roll tenderloin in mixture, coating filet.

3/ Place filet on lined sheet tray in oven, setting oven-safe thermometer to go off at 130–1350 (for medium rare), or 75–90 minutes. Remove filet from oven, loosely tent it with foil, and allow to rest 25–30 minutes. Remove twine, slice, and serve with horseradish cream.

Per Serving

Calories: 441
Fat: 6g
Saturated fat: 10.2g
Carbs: 2.8g
Fiber: 0g
Protein: 45.6g

Roasted Cauliflower Pilaf

Another great side dish for any main course. Packed with nutrients and the flavor and crunchy nuts add a flavor that is sure to please.

Makes 4–6 servings


¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup walnuts
1 head of cauliflower, florets only
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 large dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted according to package directions, stems removed, and finely chopped
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped dried sour cherries (optional)


1/ Preheat oven to 425°. Toast nuts over medium heat, stirring frequently until golden brown and fragrant. Chop and set aside.
2/ Chop cauliflower in a food processor, breaking into rice-size pieces. Toss in a large bowl with 1 tbsp of oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly onto a sheet tray coated with cooking spray and roast until lightly golden.
3/ Meanwhile, sauté onion over medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook until caramelized, 20–25 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms; cook for 5 minutes. Add stock. Let stock reduce, then remove from heat.
4/ Mix cauliflower with onion mixture and nuts. Top with parsley and cherries.
Per Serving
Calories: 183
Fat: 11g
Saturated fat: 1.5g
Carbs: 14g
Fiber: 4.3g
Protein: 4.7g


Spiced Spatchcocked Roast Chicken

A great main dish that offers a savory flavor that will please anyone’s palette

Makes 4 servings


2 tsp ground sumac
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
5–5½ lb whole chicken
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1½ cups low-sodium chicken stock


1/ Preheat oven to 375°. Mix together sumac, seasoning, and garlic powder. Using kitchen shears or a knife, cut out backbone of chicken, then turn chicken over and press down on the middle of the breasts so the meat lies flat.

 2/ Season each side of the chicken with half of the rub, plus salt and pepper. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet, tucking tips back and under the wings. Pour stock onto a sheet tray and place in oven; setting a thermometer for 160°.

3/ Remove thermometer and set oven to broil to brown the skin (3–4 minutes). Once browned, remove chicken and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Per Serving

Calories: 280
Fat: 28g
Saturated fat: 4.5g
Carbs: 2g
Fiber: 1.5g
Protein: 24g

 Ranch Brussels Sprouts

What doesn’t say holidays like a serving of Brussels sprouts. And the seasoning and garnish make this a one of a kind dish that you can call your own.

Makes 4–6 servings


½ cup buttermilk
3 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tsp salt-free ranch seasoning
1½ lb Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and quartered
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Pomegranate seeds for garnish


1/ Mix together buttermilk, mayonnaise, and seasoning. Cover and set aside.
2/ Preheat oven to 400°. Toss sprouts with oil, salt, and pepper. Place sprouts in a single layer on a sheet tray and roast for 25–30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
3/ Toss sprouts with half the dressing, plate, and drizzle remaining dressing on top. Sprinkle with seeds.

Per Serving

Calories: 141
Fat: 6.5g
Saturated fat: 0.5g
Carbs: 20g
Fiber: 6.25g
Protein: 7.5g


Enjoy the heartiness of these delicious festive holiday meals and don’t feel guilty about indulging in these tasty repasts!

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