December was soup month here on the blog, but I wanted to show everyone how we created a healthy Christmas dinner. We wanted to put a healthy spin on the traditional version. We started by buying a free-range organic turkey from a local farmer (100 miles rule), adding a festive salad with homemade Christmas salad dressing, and a fabulous sweet potato side dish to complete the dinner. My mom and sister made some other dishes but we skipped the white potatoes with butter and milk, and only had a tiny bit of the stuffing from white bread. So we wanted to show that if you offer to bring some dishes, you have control of what is in them, and you are contributing to the meal. Then you can eat a tiny bit of what else is offered if you want to be polite, but you also have some healthy choices that you’ve made to fall back on, if the main menu isn’t so healthy.
Healthy Christmas Dinner
Recipe #1 Cranberry Salsa
Simple to prepare, this colorful salsa is a great alternative to canned cranberry sauce, or putting gravy on your turkey. It combines tart, sweet and spicy accents that blend perfectly and provide a welcome perk to your main dish – or use as a dip with spelt pita chips or rye crackers. I made a double batch and had enough for Christmas dinner and served it another party as a dip.
Makes about 2.5 cups
1 pound (450g) fresh cranberries
1 navel orange, peeled and diced
1 cup apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 fresh jalapeño, finely minced (use less or more to adjust spiciness)
Wash the cranberries and pat dry with a paper towel. Put them into a food processor and pulse/chop until diced but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl, add remaining ingredients and toss well.
We found that this salsa was spicier the first day and got milder as it sat in the fridge and flavors had a chance to merge more.
Recipe #2 Cranberry Salad Dressing
Makes 2 cups
1 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Wash the cranberries in a strainer. Drain and place in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and start the blender on low speed for a few seconds. Switch to high and blend for a full minute. Transfer to a shaker bottle, or old canning jar for serving. Shake well before serving and store any leftover in the fridge. Keeps well for about a week.
Recipe #3 Festive Apple Salad
Large bowl of your favorite salad greens (we used Spring Mix)
2 carrots shredded
1 large sweet apple finely chopped or shredded
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
3 green onions chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper chopped (or both)
3 Tbsp chopped pecans (raw, unsalted, organic)
1/2 of a ripe avocado sliced and chopped
Mix all of the above and toss with Cranberry Salad Dressing. Optional: add a handful of hemp hearts and toss again.
Recipe #4 Creamed Sweet Potatoes
6 Medium sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped raw unsalted pecans
Almond milk as needed (dairy substitute)
Wrap potatoes in tin foil and bake in the over at 275 for about 2 hours, checking after 90 minutes. If they are soft when you squeeze them, they’re done. Cooking them at the lower heat for longer keeps in more of the vital nutrients and makes them EXTRA juicy and sweet. Cut each potato in half and remove the peel with your hands or a spoon. Put all the pulp into a casserole dish. Mash, and add remaining ingredients using almond milk as needed until the mixture is smooth but not runny.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes covered (or uncovered if you want them crispy on the top). Sprinkle cinnamon lightly on top and serve.
So there you have it, our healthy Christmas dinner. I hope you all had a happy and healthy Christmas and I look forward to posting more for you in 2008, starting with bean and dahl recipes in January. Cheers and Happy New Year!
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Healthy Christmas Dinner Recipe Photo Credit: Her View Photography