With the holiday season in full swing, it's easy to get swept up in all the rich, decadent foods of the season. We've rounded up a few recipes that pack a flavourful punch while eliminating all the guilt. A few easy menu tweaks that swap out excess sugars and salts with natural ingredients such as honey and cheese, add a few twists on party classics like mini-meatballs, a vegetable platter and sugary mocktails. Trading out the holiday roast with lighter, lean meats or fish and using herbs and seasonal produce to amp up flavor will leave your guests satisfied and enough room for dessert.
Just a few health conscious decisions now can help keep you and your loved ones on the path to a happy, healthy holiday season—-and into the new year.
The main event: Orange-rosemary glazed salmon
Nothing says the holidays more than a show-stopping main dish. Winter is peak citrus season and brightens up your ordinary salmon fillet with an orange-rosemary glaze. The orange brightens the fish with a bit of sweetness and distinct flavor, while the rosemary adds an earthy undertone, filling your kitchen with a cozy winter scent.
Time: 20 minutes
1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
5 (4 oz) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick, skin removed
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp chicken broth, divided
⅔ cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp honey
2 ½ tsp cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Season both sides of salmon lightly with salt and pepper. Saute salmon until cooked through and browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove salmon from pan and set on plate; set aside for later use.
- Add garlic and rosemary to pan and saute for 30 seconds, then add the ¼ cup chicken broth and simmer until mostly reduced, being sure to scrape any browned bits the salmon may have left in the pan into the sauce. Add orange juice, lemon juice and honey.
- In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1 Tbsp chicken broth with the cornstarch.
- Pour cornstarch mixture into pan, stirring to incorporate. Bring the sauce to a boil and allow to boil for about one minute, stirring constantly: sauce will quickly begin to thicken.
- Return salmon to pan and spoon sauce over filets to serve.
Adapted from: Cooking Classy, original recipe here.
Now for a few sides…
Alaska Grown potato and carrot pancakes:
Alaska Grown potatoes and carrots can be found at local grocery stores or year round farmer's markets throughout the winter. For a colorful, flavorful twist, swapping out a few potatoes for red or golden beet adds a little natural sweetness to these savory pancakes. While sour cream may traditionally be served on the side of potato pancakes, sub a dollop of greek yogurt for a nutrient-rich, creamy addition.
Time: 45 minutes
1 small white onion
4 medium carrots
2 medium russet potatoes
1 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
Peanut oil or canola oil, for frying
- Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the onion separately, then the carrots and potato.
- In a medium bowl, combine grated onion, lemon juice and eggs.
- Add flour, salt and pepper into onion mixture and stir to incorporate.
- Add potato, carrot and toss to combine until evenly coated.
- Fill a large skillet with ½ an inch of oil. Place over medium heat until oil is almost smoking (Test the heat of the oil by carefully flicking water off of fingers towards the oil. When the oil sizzles and pops, it is ready).
- Scoop 2 Tbsp of batter into hands and form into a patty. Using a slotted spatula, gently lower pancake into oil. Cook, turning once, until golden on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-covered plate to drain. Work in small batches, to not crowd the pan nor lower the temperature of the oil. Repeat frying with remaining batter, until all pancakes are cooked and golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
Adapted from: Martha Stewart, original recipe here.
Garlic and parmesan give the standard broccoli a zesty, flavor-packed sucker-punch. The cheese provides just enough salt to not require any additional seasoning, helping maintain blood pressure by limiting the amount of sodium in the body. Give yourself a much-needed boost during the winter cold with this flavorful and healthful vegetable dish.
Time: 20 minutes
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets, or 1 10-ounce bag frozen broccoli florets
1 minced garlic clove
1 Tbsp canola oil
¼ cup parmesan, finely grated
- Fill stockpot with ½-inch of water and place steamer basket inside. Add broccoli florets to steamer basket and steam, covered, over medium heat until broccoli is bright green and fork tender (about 5-7 minutes for fresh broccoli or 3-4 minutes for frozen).
- Warm oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat and add garlic, taking care to be sure the garlic cooks slowly, but does not brown, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add steamed broccoli to the garlic-oil, tossing to combine and saute on medium heat for an additional 2 minutes.
- Place broccoli in a serving dish and add parmesan. Toss to combine, and serve.
Chicken and spinach mini-meatballs:
With holiday parties in full swing these healthy meatballs are a crowd-pleaser. Made with either chicken or turkey, the lean meat and spinach pack a healthy punch and powerful flavor into mini-meatballs. These bite-sized appetizers are perfect tray passers while guests wait for the main course.
Time: 90 minutes
½ onion, finely chopped
1 minced garlic clove
10-ounce package frozen spinach
1 tsp tomato paste
½ cup chicken broth
1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced fine
4 fresh sage leaves, minced fine, or ¼ tsp dried sage
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute onion until translucent, about 5 minutes, then add garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and chicken broth, stirring to incorporate the paste. Add the frozen spinach and bring the liquid to a boil.
- Cover the pan and allow liquid to simmer, thawing and breaking down the spinach, for approximately 10 minutes. Stir mixture occasionally to help the process.
- When spinach is completely thawed, remove lid and allow excess water to evaporate.
- In a medium bowl, mix the ground chicken, egg, fresh parsley, sage, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper together.
- Add spinach mixture into chicken and combine.
- Working in batches as needed, scoop out 2 Tbsp of meatball mixture and form into balls. Place meatballs ½-inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake meatballs for 20-30 minutes, rotating them halfway, or until cooked through. Makes approximately 32 meatballs.
Adapted from: Sweet As Honey, original recipe here.
Baked Apples with Oatmeal-Berry Topping
Sweets and sugar laden desserts abound during the holidays, which are delicious—-but can add to waistline woes come January. This fruit-based end to a festive meal is the perfect way to treat yourself and feel good about it! Use a variety of apples you might typically bake with—-a Granny Smith or Jonagold, for example. Mix the topping up with whatever berries you have on hand, either dried or fresh—-we used dried cranberries, but those currants you picked this summer would be perfect if you have a handful in storage.
Time: 50 minutes
2 apples, cut in half from stem end, with cores removed
1 cup water
½ Tbsp butter, cut into 4 small pieces
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup old fashioned oats
1 Tbsp berries, chopped
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp honey
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Place halved apples, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish. Add a piece of butter and a dash of cinnamon to hollowed out core.
- Pour the cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish and bake apples for 25 minutes.
- While apples are baking, combine the cinnamon, oats, chopped berries, nutmeg, honey and salt together in a small bowl.
- Remove apples from oven and carefully top each apple with oat mixture, distributing the entire topping over the four apple halves.
- Return to oven and continue baking another 20 minutes.
- Serve warm.
A refreshing mocktail
Cranberry ginger fizz
Ring in the New Year with friends and family with this light, fizzy and fun drink. If you'd prefer to serve it chilled, pop a few frozen cranberries in the glass—-added bonus, they're festive and won't dilute the drink!
Time: 2 minutes
4 ounces diet cranberry juice
1 16-ounce bottle ginger ale
2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 lime slices, for garnish
- Divide cranberry juice between two glasses, pouring 2 ounces in each glass. Pour 1 ounce of lime juice into each glass. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a lime slice.
This article was produced by the special content department of Alaska Dispatch News in collaboration with ANTHC. Contact the editor, Jamie Gonzales, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ADN newsroom was not involved in its production.