With the holiday season upon us it's difficult to avoid the cookies, pies, cakes, and decadent meals. It's entirely possible to enjoy the holidays but still be health conscious by swapping out just a few ingredients while preparing meals and snacks for children. By following a few simple tips and using our suggested recipes as a baseline, you'll be prepared for the holidays!
Useful Tips to Keep in Mind while Preparing around the Holidays
1. Fresh fruits and veggies make meals taste better, fill us up, and are good for the kids so make sure to use tons of fresh produce in your cooking at home. Some great seasonal ones include: parsnips and carrots, grapefruits and oranges, and hearty sweet potatoes.
2. When baking, swap out all purpose flour for whole wheat flour. Keep in mind this might affect the texture of baked goods a little bit by making them a bit more dense...but still just as delicious.
3. Try to make after school snacks healthy, festive, and interactive so the kids crave the sweet desserts after lunch and dinner less. Some of our favorite activities include "String Cheese Snowmen" or "Grinch Fruit Kabobs"
4. Keep the recipes simple. With busy schedules during the holiday season there is no reason to complicate things. All of our recommended recipes below include no more than 3 easy steps.
5 "Healthy" Holiday Recipes Ideas
A healthy makeover for the traditional creamed spinach, this is the perfect side to accompany any main course during the holidays.Ingredients
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium sweet onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 9 oz baby spinach
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup fat free milk
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat, add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove pan and set aside.
- Heat remaining oil over medium heat. Whisk in whole wheat flour and cook, stirring until it begins to bubble. Slowly whisk milk and continue until bubbling begins again. Remove from heat.
- Add cheese and mix until melted, let cool, and then enjoy.
Apple Pumpkin Breakfast Muffins
A couple must have fall flavors - this combination in one single muffin is the perfect Saturday morning breakfast treat because it's sweet, filling, and fun!
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 Macintosh apple, finely chopped
- 1 whole wheat baguette, torn into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray muffin cups with cooking spray.
- Whisk eggs, egg whites, milk, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and pumpkin in bowl until frothy. Then, combine apples and bread in separate bowl. Pour egg mixture on top, stir and let sit 5 minutes.
- Press the mixture evenly into muffin tin and bake for 45 minutes until tops begin to brown. Let cool, and enjoy (maybe with some maple syrup)!
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
This citrusy spin on the classic cheesecake bars makes for a deliciously bright treat guaranteed to satisfy kids' sweet tooth but contains less sugar and fat and uses whole wheat flour!
- 4 oz whole wheat pastry flour
- 3 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 (8 oz) package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese
- 2 large eggs
- To prepare crust, place flour, powdered sugar, oil, and 1/4 tsp salt in food processor. Then, add butter. Pour mixture into an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Pat mixture down into an even layer and bake at 350 degrees F for 23 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and let cool.
- Prepare filling by placing yogurt, honey, lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla extract, remaining salt, and cream cheese, and eggs into food processor. Process until smooth and pour mixture over crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Let cool for about 3 hours and then enjoy.
Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
This tried and true classic never disappoints (and will not break the bank) . It's simple, flavorful, and looks beautiful into the middle of the dinner table! Make sure to cut into small pieces for the kids to enjoy.
- 1 (5-6 pound) roasting chicken
- Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch of fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 head garlic, cut in half
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
- 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Remove chicken giblets. Rinse chicken inside and out and remove excess fat. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff the cavity with thyme, lemon, and all of the garlic. Brush outside of the chicken with butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Place onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt and pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of roasting pan and place chicken on top.
- Roast chicken for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven, let cool and place chicken and vegetables on platter. Enjoy!
Orange & Pomegranate Salad
This fruity, textured salad is the perfect refreshing side to any meal. The kids are bound to love the bright colors, juicy-ness of oranges, and the tangy "pop" of the pomegranates.
- 1 cup of thinly sliced red onions
- 25 mint leaves, chopped
- 6 naval oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
- Pinches of salt, paprika, ground cinnamon
- Seeds of 1 pomegranate
- 1 lime (juice)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- Mix together lime juice, olive oil, honey, and set aside to dress the salad.
- Arrange the plate. Sprinkle half of the chopped mint leaves on platter, arrange orange slices, and onions on top. Sprinkle the salt, paprika and cinnamon on top and then spread pomegranate seeds.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with remaining fresh mint leaves. Enjoy!