Healthy holiday recipes to make for family and guests

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Healthy holiday recipes to make for family and guests

Postby healthydecode » Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:25 am

Between all the heavy appetizers, rich meals and buttery desserts, it’s important to squeeze in a healthy meal or two over the holiday season.

Whether you’re entertaining guests for a cocktail party, hosting family overnight or just looking for a quick and nutritious meal to put on the table during the hectic holiday weeks, personal chef Jesa Henneberry has some nutrient-packed recipes to fill you up and satisfy your comfort-food cravings.

Appetizers and Snacks

For a healthy and flavorful appetizer, Henneberry likes to deconstruct one of her favorite salads and serve it in a finger-food-friendly way. She halves and roasts Brussels sprouts, chunks of butternut squash and red grapes, and then layers the warm vegetables on skewers. For an added crunch, sprinkle the skewers with some toasted walnuts. The sweet and bitter combination is perfect to set out at a cocktail party or for a pre-dinner snack when the family is gathered together.

Another tip Henneberry has for any appetizer hour during the holiday season is to keep the snacks vegan, if possible.

“I feel like when you’re having a holiday meal or a big party, you can end up getting too much heavy food if you’re offering a lot of meat in the appetizer courses,” she says.

Another one of her favorite things to whip up for family and friends is a walnut pâté, served with a colorful crudité arrangement of radishes and carrots.

A Casual Spin on Traditional Dinners

Holiday meals between Thanksgiving and the New Year tend to get a little repetitive.

“I think people can get a little bored with their traditional meals. You know, there’s always a standard turkey or a ham or a leg of lamb … surrounded by your casseroles, stuffings and things like that,” Henneberry says.

One way to break out of the rut and still enjoy the flavors of the season is to take a more informal approach to the meal. For example, instead of a whole turkey dinner, Henneberry likes to top spiral quinoa pasta, covered in a butternut squash sauce, with a ground-turkey ragù.

“It’s all of these combinations of different flavors from a traditional holiday meal, but I kind of reinvent them and make it a little more casual and unique for the day,” she says.

If kids are part of the party, Henneberry likes to make turkey burgers topped with a cranberry chutney and sandwiched by a cornbread muffin.

For side salads, Henneberry recommends sautéing fresh green beans in a good quality vinegar and oil, topped with toasted nuts. If you prefer a green salad, try sautéing greens, such as kale, radicchio or escarole, for a warm side.

“I know not everybody likes to have a cold salad in the middle of the winter,” Henneberry says. “I like to quickly toss [greens] in a hot pan with some garlic and oil, get them to wilt down a little bit, but keep their crunch and then serve it as a salad side dish.”

Healthy Weeknight Meals

For those nights between the big holiday meals, Henneberry likes to have a few quick and nutritious meals on-hand to serve to family and guests. And one of the easiest meals to whip up on a weeknight is soup.

“The temperatures have cooled down quite a bit, and I feel like everybody wants something comforting at the end of the night. And it’s also something you can just quickly put in a pot and warm up. It’s pretty easy to grab and just have a nourishing, nutritious dinner,” she says.

Her favorite soup recipe lately is a curry soup with coconut milk, red curry paste, roasted sweet potatoes and pulled chicken. (See the recipe below.)

“I feel like [curry] is such a warming spice for cold winter nights,” she says.
Henneberry’s take on a bread bowl makes for another filling and wholesome meal. She likes to halve, de-seed and roast a delicata or kabocha squash. Then, she makes a quick ground meat chili or ragù and spoons the warm sauce into the roasted squash boats.

“And then you can eat the squash as you scoop out the soup,” says Henneberry. She adds that the squash bowls are not only a great way to get a vegetable in the meal, but squash, being low in carbohydrates and calories, is a much healthier alternative to the bread bowl.

A Sweet Bite

With Henneberry’s sweet potato pie truffles, there’s no need to skip dessert, even on the days when you want to stick to healthy eating. Henneberry likes to make a bite-sized sweet potato pie truffle that’s packed with superfoods, including mashed sweet potato, chia seeds and nuts. (See the recipe below.)


Courtesy of Jesa Henneberry

Chicken and Roasted Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup


1 1/2 lbs Japanese sweet potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), rinsed and cut into 1-inch cubes (with the skin)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
1 lb chicken boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 onion, roughly chopped
1, 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red curry paste (found in the international section of markets)
1, 15-ounce can unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs

Preheat oven to 400° F. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil, season with salt and paper and roast on parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender and starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper and sauté until cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken from pan and set aside.

Sauté the onion and ginger in pan until the onion softens, about five minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook for one minute. Add the coconut milk and broth and gently bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for five minutes.

Add the cooled potatoes and chicken to the soup and simmer for five minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and salt.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Drizzle the sesame oil evenly over the servings. Garnish with the cilantro.

Sweet Potato Pie Truffles


1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (you can use canned if you’d like)
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup raw, unsalted pecans
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon chia seeds
4 tablespoons coconut flour

Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add coconut flakes and toast, stirring often, until lightly golden brown. Set aside in a shallow bowl or on a plate.

In a food processor, process sweet potato, pecans and maple syrup until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt and chia seeds and process to combine. Gradually add coconut flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse to fully incorporate.

Scoop out the potato mixture in 1-tablespoon increments and roll into balls with your hands. Roll the balls in the toasted coconut flakes to coat. Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to three days- or freeze.

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Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:41 am

Re: Healthy holiday recipes to make for family and guests

Postby anjalig » Sun May 24, 2015 9:20 am

I like Sweet Potato Pie Truffles recipe. One day I will prepare and will again revert with final opinion.
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun May 24, 2015 9:07 am

Re: Healthy holiday recipes to make for family and guests

Postby smilinglv » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:15 am

i will try it .....
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri May 29, 2015 6:54 am

Re: Healthy holiday recipes to make for family and guests

Postby PatriciaShor » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:11 am

Thanks for sharing this recipe. I will definitely try this recipe, as I am a dessert lover. You can try different desserts from wholesale cheesecake supplier, which serves world's finest cheesecakes and many more items. They are the best at what they do and you can also visit their website for more recipes and dessert options.
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:01 am

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