We all love to indulge during the holidays. For many of us, eating healthy goes out the door from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. But there are so many delicious, festive foods that can add to your health and to the holiday spirit. I like to spoil my guests with foods that are festive and indulgent, but also contribute anti-aging benefits. Here are a few tips:
I like to start with an appetizer that help break the ice at a party, and encourage guests to interact. Quinoa Tabbouleh on Pita is a Mediterranean-inspired salad/dip that features high-protein quinoa; tomatoes that provide lycopene; parsley, which is full of antioxidants; and olive oil, which helps lower inflammation.
Stuffed Petite Peppers are roasted and stuffed with, nutty-tasting millet, smoky Canadian bacon, parsley, garlic and onion. They’re the perfect two-bite appetizer you can pass around and the peppers are antioxidant powerhouses. The millet is gluten free and protein rich. Just because these morsels are a party food doesn’t mean they aren’t good for you.
There’s nothing like impressing your guests with a beautiful Spiced Rack of Lamb (in my FoodTrients cookbook). My secret is that it’s really simple to prepare and packs a nutritional wallop. Like other red meats, lamb is loaded with vitamin B12 for energy and lysine for repairing tissue. New Zealand lamb is lower in fat that domestic, plus it’s tenderer and cooks faster. The garlic in the rub contains compounds that help relax artery walls and minimize inflammation.
My friends and I believe it’s just not a party unless you have multiple desserts! One of my holiday favorites is Cranberry Bread Pudding made with Cranberry Compote. Growing up in Southeast Asia, only canned Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce was available, and only in stores for the elite. This Cranberry Bread Pudding is my version of a recipe from my grandmother that we always prepared during Christmas time. Called lemoncito pudding, we used a small, tart, deep Christmas red citrus fruit that grows on trees but is similar in size and color to fresh cranberries. The red is so intense that little kids would play with it, rubbing the fresh fruit on their finger nails to make it look like they were wearing nail polish! I enjoy the sweet/tart flavor of cranberries and we are so lucky to have fresh ones available in stores this time of year. My mom used to preserve the fresh lemoncito into jams when they were in season. I thought of substituting the cranberries for lemoncitos when I moved to the U.S.
Cranberries are high in vitamin C, which we can all use more of in the winter months, plus they rank high on the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale.
Rich, elegant Brazil Nut Tarts contain a full cup of Brazil nuts, which contain good amounts of selenium, protein and Omega-3s that help keep your skin elastic and supple. You can make these tarts as individual desserts or one large one. For something a bit exotic I like to serve Cherimoya Circles. Not everyone is familiar with this tropical American fruit, but the mild, almost apple flavor and custard-like texture will easily win them over. Some specialty markets, especially Latin markets, carry cherimoyas in season, as do farmers markets. You can also order them from melissas.com. The Cherimoya Circles come out like dainty, candy-like balls that are great for your party or as gifts. And they provide vitamin B6—an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory– vitamin C, iron, and riboflavin for cell energy.