Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Healthy recipes for the holidays and beyond

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Previous posts have touched on how the holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but can be a challenging time to control your diet. One of the best ways to keep your weight stable during the holidays is to prepare ahead. Interesting salads, hearty chili, and even low-cal latkes can help keep you on track, while being festive and satisfying. One of the biggest challenges of weight loss and maintenance is the feeling of deprivation as people around you chow down on sugar laden treats. But there are usually healthy alternatives such as fruit salad which can satisfy your sweet tooth.

A great opportunity for healthy eating comes when you’re asked to bring a dish to a celebration.  There are many tasty and crowd-pleasing options available which are easy to prepare.  Here are some recipes to help you plan ahead, eat well and introduce friends and family to some new food traditions:

A trusty stand-by dish is roasted vegetables– Some favorites are sweet potatoes, peppers, eggplant, brussel sprouts, vidalia or red onion,  butternut or any other kind of squash, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, – take your pick!

Sprinkle olive oil, salt & pepper to taste. Add a favorite herb- rosemary, thyme, etc. Roast at 425′ for about 45 min until a little crispy or less time if preferred softer. Add sliced shallots while roasting, toasted pine nuts for garnish, etc.

Winter Slaw  Copyright  Ina Garten 2013 all rights reserved

Photo: Quentin Bacon
6 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, and cored
6 large Kale leaves, center rib completely removed (8 to 10 ounces)
½ small head radicchio, cored
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried cranberries
1 (6-ounce) chunk good Parmesan cheese
With a very sharp knife, cut the Brussels sprouts, kale, and radicchio across in thin shreds and put them all in a large bowl.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour enough dressing on the slaw to moisten it well. Add the cranberries.
Shave the Parmesan in big shards with a vegetable peeler, add it to the salad and toss well. Check for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

Wheat Berry Salad with Pomegranate and Kale (serves 6)

wheat-berry-kale-cranberry-salad-ck-xWheat berries – the kernels of unprocessed whole wheat sold in bulk bins or packages marked whole wheat or wheat berries-  make an especially wonderful grain salad, especially colorful and nutritious tossed with pomegranate seeds and kale. Either soft wheat berries or hard wheat berries work well – the soft ones take a little less time to cook. This is a salad for anytime, but the red and green look great for Thanksgiving or holiday season.  This would go nicely with fish for dinner as well.

1 cup wheat berries

4 – 5 cups kale, 1 small bunch, stripped from stalk, torn or chopped into pieces, rinsed and dried)

2-3 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup pomegranate seeds (from about 1 pomegranate), see ingredients for tip on seeding a pomegranate

1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1 orange, outside peel removed with a serrated knife, orange thinly sliced and cut into quarters (optional)

1 cup sliced almonds or walnuts, lightly toasted

Raspberry Dressing:

2 tablespoons fresh raspberry juice from fresh or frozen raspberries*

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (from 1/2 an orange)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table or sea salt)

  1. Rinse wheat berries and add to a large saucepan filled with enough salted water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook the wheat berries until they are plump and tender, 60-80 minutes depending on the type of wheat berry used. (Be sure to add 1 – 2 teaspoons salt to the water to boost the flavor of the grain.) Test as you cook; cooked wheat berries are still somewhat chewy.  Drain, and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Wash and spin dry the kale. Chop into pieces. Add to a large bowl, lightly salt and drizzle with 2-3 teaspoons of oil. With your hands, massage the salt and oil into the kale until well coated, about 2 to 3 minutes. (Chop kale additionally, if needed after massaging.)
  3. Combine the cooled wheat berries with pomegranate seeds, cranberries and kale. A nice wide platter will show off the salad nicely.
  4. Make the dressing by whisking together the raspberry juice, orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup or honey and salt. When ready to serve, pour over the salad and toss.  The wheat berries will absorb dressing, so dress the salad generously. Test after a few minutes to make sure it’s just right.  Top with the nuts and serve.

Raspberry juice: take about 1/2 to 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries and put into a fine strainer (a size that will catch raspberry seeds). Place the strainer over a small bowl and mash the raspberries with the back of a spoon so the juice strains into the bowl. (If using frozen raspberries, let the mix sit a few minutes while berries defrost.)

Here’s a great Farro Salad 1 recipe that we enjoyed at brunch recently.


Low fat potato latkes– the secret is to bake, not fry them, otherwise, the recipes are basically the same


Turkey Chili


EAT (healthy foods), DRINK (in moderation) and BE MERRY (no qualifiers here)  and enjoy your holiday season!

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