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Healthy Holiday Recipes That Only Taste Like Guilty Pleasures

Healthy Holiday Recipes That Only Taste Like Guilty Pleasures

By California.com
November 24, 2020

The best gift to give this holiday season is a nutritious feast that’s anything but basic. While typical holiday dishes are loaded with sugar, fat, and carbs, there are countless healthy holiday meals that are just as festive and tempting as the usual foods consumed during this time of year. Yes, that’s right: You don’t have to give up your healthy habits to stuff your face with delicious cuisine—check out these healthy holiday recipes that’ll delight everyone in your family. 

The Healthy Holiday Meals You’ll Actually Want To Eat

Whether you’re looking for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or Hanukkah recipes, take advantage of the Golden State’s seasonal bounty and prepare healthy dishes to switch things up. A few of our favorite California food bloggers can provide plenty of inspo if you’re looking for dishes that taste as good as they are for your body and mind.

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Healthy Holiday Appetizers

Stay healthy this holiday season and indulge in this delicious butternut squash dip.

Healthy Butternut Squash Dip

This butternut squash dip recipe is the perfect healthy holiday appetizer—it’s vegan, gluten-free, and incredibly appetizing. Developed by A Side of Sweet, the healthy Thanksgiving recipe can be enjoyed warm or cold, depending on how you like the texture. 

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

½ teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

⅓ cup tahini

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Fresh vegetables, crackers, or pita chips of your choice for serving


Directions

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil and place cubed butternut squash in a single layer on the sheet.

2. Season squash with garlic, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring the squash halfway through roasting. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

3. In a food processor, combine roasted squash with tahini, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and process until smooth.

4. Transfer dip into a serving bowl and dust with paprika.

5. Serve the easy Thanksgiving recipe with veggies, crackers, or pita chips


Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Live it up while staying healthy by making a delectable grain-free stuffing. Photo courtesy of Detoxinista.

Grain-Free Stuffing

One might think that “healthy” and “Thanksgiving” are two unrelated words, but Detoxinista has made this delightful combination a reality. Run by a Los Angeles-based nutritionist, this blog brings us a healthy holiday side dish that’s both low-carb and low-fat. Whether you’re preparing this at home or in a cabin you rented out for Thanksgiving, this is the kind of stuffing that won’t leave you feeling stuffed. 

Ingredients

4 cups parsnip, chopped  

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 pat butter or coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

10 ounces mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from 4–6 sprigs)

2 sprigs fresh sage (10–12 leaves), chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Place the parsnips on one of the baking sheets in a single layer, then place the carrots and onion on the other baking sheet, in the same style. Roast both sheets of vegetables for 30 minutes, or until tender. Toss halfway through roasting.

3. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter or coconut oil and sauté garlic for about five minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes, or until tender. 

4. Transfer mushrooms to a large food processor. When veggies are done roasting, place them in the food processor as well. Add fresh thyme and sage, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Quickly pulse the veggies to get them to mix well, making sure to maintain their chunky consistency. 

5. Transfer the grain-free stuffing into a serving bowl and indulge in the healthy holiday side dish made with California-grown produce.

Switch things up this year and serve a unique and vibrant salad. Photo courtesy of Food Between Friends.

CHERRY SALAD

Most holiday dinner tables are in need of more greens, and if you’re looking for a light and bright salad, look no further than this recipe from Food Between Friends. Not only is it healthy and unique, but also super easy to make. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Ingredients

FOR THE SALAD

1 ½ pounds cherries, pitted

½ cup parsley, roughly chopped

¼ cup mint, roughly chopped

⅓ cup toasted pistachios

FOR THE DRESSING

2–3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons sorghum syrup

A pinch of salt

¼ cup olive oil


Directions

1. Cut pitted cherries into halves. Gently toss them with parsley, mint, and toasted pistachios in a bowl.

2. In a separate small bowl, combine lemon juice with sorghum syrup and a pinch of salt. Slowly add in the olive oil while whisking, and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.

3. Splash half of the dressing over the cherry mixture, and toss until combined.

4. Serve the cherry salad with the rest of the dressing on the side, and indulge in this easy Thanksgiving dish. 


Healthy Christmas Dinner Recipes

Feast on this satisfying, comforting chicken and string beans dish. Photo courtesy of The Amateur Gourmet.

Harissa Honey Chicken With Blistered String Beans

Nothing says Christmas like a proper feast. This healthy holiday recipe is packed with protein and vitamins A, C, and K. We have The Amateur Gourmet to thank for this wonderful and healthy Christmas dinner recipe

Ingredients

1 (3–4) pound chicken

Salt and pepper to taste

Grapeseed oil or other neutral oil

2 big handfuls large string beans, stemmed

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons harissa 

½ cup honey

1 lime, juiced


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

2. Remove the backbone from the chicken using kitchen shears, and flatten the chicken breast using your palms. Dry chicken by patting it with paper towels, then season it with plenty of salt and pepper.

3. In a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, splash a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil, and place the chicken on the skillet breast-side down. Use a lid to press down on the chicken to help it brown properly. 

4. Continue doing this for a few minutes. Once the chicken has golden-brown spots, use tongs to flip over the chicken. Then, place it in the oven in the cast-iron skillet. Cook for at least 30 minutes. 

5. While the chicken is cooking, place string beans in a skillet over medium heat. Toss beans with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange them on a baking sheet, and cook in the same oven for over 20 minutes, or until the beans are caramelized. Move the beans around every now and then. 

6. In a small bowl, combine harissa, honey, and lime juice. Once the chicken is cooked, spread the harissa mixture all over the chicken until the entire surface is covered and the entire mixture is used.

7. Set the chicken under the broiler, and turn it onto high heat. Broil chicken for a few minutes, or until it is charred in several spots and the honey starts caramelizing.

8. Remove chicken from the broiler and place it on a cutting board. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

9. Serve the delicious and healthy Christmas dinner with the caramelized green beans.  


Healthy Holiday Side Dishes

 

Get creative this year and make a Christmas tree salad featuring California produce. Photo courtesy of Healthy Happy Life.

 

Christmas Tree Salad

The house is ready with all of the California-inspired holiday decorations, so now it's time to manifest the holiday spirit in the form of a healthy Christmas side dish. Healthy Happy Life created the ultimate holiday salad that looks just like a Christmas tree. Who wouldn’t want to have this on their dinner table?

Ingredients

For the salad

1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped

⅓ cup pomegranate seeds

¾ cup red grapes, sliced

2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sliced in half, segments separated

1 small onion, diced  

2 tablespoons dried cranberries (optional)

1 small apple, chopped

½ cup pecans, chopped

1 slice of bread (your choice)

For the dressing

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

⅛ teaspoon coriander

A few pinches of orange zest

A pinch of cayenne

Salt and pepper 


Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables, fruits, and nuts for the salad.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Pour onto the salad, and toss until combined. 

3. Toast bread to your liking. Then, use a star-shaped cookie cutter or a knife to cut out a star for the tree salad.

3. Transfer salad into a serving bowl, and place it in a way so the middle part stands tall, poking upwards like a Christmas tree.

4. Top with the toast star, and wow your guests with this healthy Christmas appetizer.


Healthy Christmas Cookies

These chocolate chip cookies are absolutely fantastic, and best of all, no-bake. Photo courtesy of Kirbie's Cravings.

Keto No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kirbie’s Cravings is the San Diego-based food blog behind this low-carb, keto-friendly healthy Christmas cookie recipe. It’s probably the most delicious healthy holiday dessert you’ll prepare this year. The cookies are also the perfect easy fall dessert you can make at home

Ingredients

½ cup natural unsweetened cashew butter 

2 tablespoons Lakanto sugar-free maple-flavored syrup

4 drops vanilla extract

4 tablespoons coconut flour

3 tablespoons sugar-free semi-sweet chocolate chips


Directions

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine cashew butter, syrup, and vanilla in a large bowl, and mix well. The mixture should resemble a thick paste. If necessary, add more syrup for sweetness.

3. Gradually add coconut flour one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture’s consistency resembles cookie dough.

4. Use a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop to create dough balls. While doing so, press the dough into the cookie scoop to compact it, then release it onto the baking sheet. 

5. Flatten dough balls into round disks using your palm.

6. Gently press chocolate chips onto the surface of the cookies.

7. Place cookies in the fridge for at least an hour.

8. Enjoy the healthy Christmas cookies with a glass of milk. 


Healthy New Year’s Eve Recipe

Indulge in this mouthwatering lemon garlic butter salmon and impress your guests. Photo courtesy of Ev's Eats.

Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon

This mouthwatering recipe developed by Ev’s Eats is the perfect healthy New Year’s Eve recipe that’ll have everyone raving about your cooking. We guarantee that this is going to be your favorite way to prepare salmon from now on. 

Ingredients

⅓ cup butter

6 large garlic cloves, crushed 

½ cup fresh lemon juice (or juice of one and a half lemons)

2 pounds salmon

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Lemon slices


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a large piece of foil that’s big enough to fold over and seal.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute, or until fragrant.

3. Turn off the heat, then add lemon juice and whisk.

4. Place salmon onto the baking sheet skin-side down, and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste. 

5. Use a spoon to spread the lemon butter evenly over the salmon, then sprinkle with parsley. Place lemon slices on top of the salmon, and fold the foil over the salmon to cover and seal it shut.

6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through. If the salmon is thick, it’ll need to cook longer.

7. Open the foil and place the salmon in the broiler for two minutes on medium heat.

8. Garnish with more parsley, and revel in the healthy holiday recipe


Healthy Hanukkah Recipes

Celebrate Hanukkah and prepare healthy latkes for a fabulous holiday meal. Photo courtesy of Culinary Hill.

Crispy Potato Latkes 

Latkes, also known as potato pancakes, are quintessential Hanukkah foods that everyone loves. Culinary Hill showed us this awesome, simple, and healthy holiday recipe to make the crispiest potato latkes this year. 

Ingredients

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled

1 large onion, peeled and halved

2 eggs

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup vegetable oil (for frying)

Chives (for garnish)

Ketchup (for serving)


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and move an oven rack to the middle.

2. Line a large plate with paper towels.

3. Shred the potatoes and onions using a box grater or a food processor, and place them on a clean kitchen towel. Using a tea towel, squeeze the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible before them transferring to a large bowl.

4. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, one teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of pepper to grated potatoes and onions, and mix well.

5. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat oil to 325 degrees.

6. Place rounded tablespoons of the shredded potato mixture into the oil, and use a heat-proof utensil to flatten the potatoes. 

7. Fry for three minutes on one side, or until golden brown. Flip and cook for two more minutes, until the second side is crispy and golden brown.

8. Once cooked, transfer the latkes to the paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil.

9. When all your latkes have been fried, transfer them to a baking sheet and place them in the preheated oven to keep them warm until serving time.

10. Garnish with chives, and serve the healthy Hanukkah recipe with ketchup. 

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