5 Holiday Treats That Everyone Will Love
By: Amy Capetta
November 30, 2012
It's natural to indulge in your favorite foods during the holiday season. Yet those who are health-conscious may struggle keeping themselves—and their families—on track when it comes to mindful eating during the seasonal madness. However, Liz Weiss, M.S., R.D., co-author, No Whine with Dinner and The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers, has a solution to this dilemma—making nutritious recipes that taste delicious. "Our goal in writing No Whine with Dinner is to show parents how easy it can be to make healthy meals that kids and adults really want to eat." Here, Weiss shares five of her kid-tested recipes that will please even the pickiest of eaters around your table during this year's festivities!
Autumn Apple Pumpkin Cake
"It’s a dessert, so it’s not sugar free," says Weiss, "but I made up for it with the whole wheat flour, pumpkin, apples, walnuts, currants, and heart-healthy canola oil."
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups peeled, cored and diced Granny Smith apples (I cut the apples into small, 1/4-inch dice and used 2 medium apples, about 7 ounces each)
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously oil or coat a 10-cup bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda in a large bowl until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and oil until well combined. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract and continue to whisk until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the try ingredients and stir until just moistened. Add the apples and currants and stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
- Cool the cake completely, and dust the top with powdered sugar as desired.
Nutrition Information per Serving: (1 slice): 330 calories, 15g fat (1.5g saturated, 1.5g omega-3), 240mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g protein, 20% vitamin A, 10% iron
Better-For-You Brussels Sprouts Gratin
"The secret to our healthy makeover is the roux made with extra virgin olive oil— just 1 tablespoon of butter, flour, and 1% milk," says Weiss. "But we kept the original 4 ounces of prosciutto for flavor and depth."
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces prosciutto, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2½ cups 1% milk
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel off any damaged outer layers of Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem to make it flush. Cut small sprouts in half and larger ones into quarters lengthwise. Keep a bit of the core attached.
- Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the prosciutto and sauté , stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts and stir continuously for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the flour and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and sherry, raise the heat, and bring to low boil (keep stirring). Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens and reduces by about a third, 7 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, pepper, nutmeg, and salt.
- Transfer to an oven-proof casserole dish. Cover with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the Brussels spouts are tender and the top turns golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 200 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated, 0.3g omega-3), 620mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 13g protein, 25% vitamin A, 130% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 10% iron
Crazy-Good Cream-less Creamed Spinach
"My 13-year old son, Simon, has declared this recipe his hands-down new favorite," says Weiss. "His exact words: 'It’s mad good!'"
- Two 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups 1% low-fat milk
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- A few generous pinches ground nutmeg (use fresh if you have it)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup light cream cheese
- Cook the spinach according to package directions. Once cooked, drain in a colander, and press with the back of a large spoon to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and golden, about 2 minutes.
- Whisk the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese and cream cheese until the cream cheese melts. Stir in the cooked spinach, and season with additional salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Place over low heat and reheat if necessary.
Nutrition Information per Serving (about 1/3 cup): 150 calories, 9g fat (2.5g saturated, 0.5g omega-3), 300mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 7g protein, 190% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 10% iron
Sweet Potato and Ginger Latkes
"To celebrate the festival of lights, we created a recipe for latkes, a traditional Hanukkah potato pancake side dish cooked in oil," says Weiss. "For our recipe, we took a twist on the traditional by using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, and we kept the amount of oil in check by using just two and a half tablespoons for the entire recipe. But no worries—our latkes are still crisp and crunchy!"
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- One 1-pound sweet potato, peeled and shredded (4 cups)
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/8 cup minced onion
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2½ tablespoons canola oil, divided
- In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sweet potato, whole wheat flour, onion, salt, ginger, and pepper until well combined.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 4, place 1/4 cup loosely packed potato mixture per latke into the skillet and flatten to 4-inch diameter.
- Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and 4 more latkes, and finish with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and 2 latkes.
Note: To keep the latkes warm, we placed a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet, popped it in a 200 degree oven, and then placed the finished latkes on top.
Nutrition Information per Serving (2 latkes): 170 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated, 0.7g omega-3), 210mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein, 220% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C
I-Love-Chocolate Party Torte
"Imagine a chocolate torte that's good for you!" says Weiss. "For this decadent-sounding—and tasting!—cake, we lighten things up by using canola oil instead of butter, and whole wheat flour versus the usual white."
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1¼ cups)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- Powdered sugar
- One 16-ounce container fresh strawberries, sliced
- Light whipped cream, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan and dust the bottom with granulated sugar. Set aside.
- Place the chocolate chips and oil in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until the chips melt, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Whisk together the sugar, flour, and cocoa powder in a large bowl until well combined. Whisk in the eggs until well blended. Add the melted chocolate and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely. When cool, remove from the pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with the strawberries and the whipped cream as desired.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice): 230 calories, 13g fat (3.5g saturated, 0.7g omega-3), 25mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein, 25% vitamin C
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Amy Capetta has been writing for websites and national magazines for over 12 years and primarily focuses on health, diet, nutrition, fitness and real-women health stories. Over the years her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Weight Watchers, Prevention, Self, All You, Family Circle and Health Monitor magazines, well as on the sites aolhealth.com, EverydayHealth.com, Parents.com, WEtv.com and myLifetime.com. When she’s not speaking with nutritionists, trainers and medical experts, she spends her time cooking, Tweeting, power walking, doing yoga, attending food events and watching one of the many TV shows saved on her DVR.