In a season where we’re surrounded by baked goods and sweet treats—not that anyone’s complaining—healthy holiday traditions can be hard to come by (if not impossible).
And when you have your eyes set on January for New Year’s resolutions and new diets, it’s easy to spend the better part of December enjoying your few remaining cheat days. But instead of sacrificing good health in the name of being festive, try these easy holiday recipes—not only are they delicious, they’re also nutritious.
You don’t have to use an open fire to enjoy these holiday favorites. After all, who has time for that—right? So, skip the fire and enjoy the nutrients that Chestnuts offer—like fiber, vitamin C and manganese. Break out the festive attire, play some Nat King Cole and follow these easy steps:
Ingredients: Shelled chestnuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut and “X” shape into the flat side of each chestnut (leave the shells on).
3. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet so they don’t overlap.
4. Roast 10 minutes and turn; roast for additional 10 minutes.
5. Peel off shells and enjoy!
Potato latkes, otherwise known as potato pancakes, are a traditional dish commonly served during Hanukkah. While potato latkes aren’t particularly nutritious—unfortunately—you can try substituting other veggies in place of the potatoes. Or better yet, fry them in healthier alternatives like olive oil instead of high-fat vegetable oils.
Make your health-conscious substitutions and follow this traditional recipe:
Ingredients: 2 large Russet potatoes; 1 large onion; 2 large eggs; ½ cup all-purpose flour; 2 tsp course kosher salt; 1 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper; oil for frying
1. Grate potatoes and onions, and wring out as much liquid as possible.
2. Transfer mixture into a large bowl and add eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and pepper. Mix until the flour is absorbed.
3. Heat oil and use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the pan, cooking in batches.
4. Use spatula to flatten into discs and flip after latkes are brown and crispy. Cook until second side is done and sprinkle with salt before serving.
Healthy Hot Chocolate
There’s nothing better than a mug of hot chocolate to warm you up during the holidays, both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, many pre-packaged hot chocolate mixes are high in sugar and empty calories. In exchange for just a few extra minutes, you can have a healthier, home-made version by following these steps:
Ingredients: 2 tbsp sugar; 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder; 1 cup of 1% milk; ¼ tsp vanilla extract, pinch of ground cinnamon
1. Mix sugar, cocoa and two tablespoons of cold milk in a mug until smooth.
2. Heat the remaining milk in a small saucepan until hot.
3. Stir in cocoa mixture from mug and vanilla extract.
4. Pour back into mug and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
Would it even be Christmas without the sugar cookies? While they are tasty, they can add up before you know it. So, instead of store-bought cookies, try this easy, from-scratch recipe for a delicious, low-sugar alternative:
Ingredients: ½ cup butter; ½ cup shortening, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 1/8 tsp salt, 3 egg yolks, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat mixture until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and flour.
3. Shape dough into balls or cut into Christmas shapes. Place dough two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake in the oven for 12 – 14 minutes or until edges are set; do not let edges brown! Cool, decorate, and enjoy!
A happy holiday season starts with good health.