The holiday season is upon us! Thanksgiving is often the day that kicks us off into a feeding frenzy of delicious baked goods. The Christmas cookies are coming in hot, and I know they aren't all for Santa! Yes, it can be hard to resist the temptation of so many treats. Thus, the battle of the winter layer begins. We’ve added several recipes to help you stay on track, and stay off of Santa’s “Naughty” List.
On-the-go Egg Muffins: Don’t forget about breakfast! Regulating blood sugar is an important factor in staying healthy. Ensuring breakfast every morning with protein will not only keep you feeling energized, but will boost your metabolism too. This is a great option for when you are busy, and makes a healthy replacement for high starchy items such as cereals, bagels, or muffins.
-2-3 chicken sausage, cooked and chopped
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-¼ yellow onion, chopped
-8 eggs, whisked
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-¼ teaspoon garlic powder
-⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
-salt and pepper, to taste
-avocado, to garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook sausage until cooked through. In a large bowl, add sausage, red bell pepper, yellow onion, eggs, garlic cloves, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Use a ladle to pour mixture into 8-10 muffin tins. (I used a silicone muffin tray and did not have to grease it. If you are using a regular metal pan, thoroughly grease all of it or use muffin liners. Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Garnish with avocado.
Winter Pomegranate Butternut Squash Salad: This salad is nutrient packed. It’s hearty and fresh, and will provide a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and omega 3 fatty acids. Making your own dressing ensures getting healthy fats and avoiding the extra added ingredients like sugars in store brand dressings. It’s fun and easy, and cheap!
-1 tablespoon minced shallot
-1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-2 teaspoons lemon juice
-2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or finely chopped tarragon
-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-2 teaspoons water
Squash & Salad
-11/2-2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut or buttercup, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch
-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-Freshly ground pepper to taste
-6 cups torn frisée or curly endive
-6 cups torn radicchio
-1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (see Tips)
-1/3 cup pistachios or walnuts, toasted (see Tips) and coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 375°F. To prepare vinaigrette: Mix shallot, pomegranate molasses, vinegar, lemon juice, thyme (or tarragon) and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil, then water. To prepare squash: Place squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Roast, stirring once or twice, until fork-tender, 15 to 25 minutes (depending on the type of squash). Let cool. To prepare salad: Place frisée (or endive), radicchio and the squash in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and gently toss to coat. Divide the salad among 6 plates and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pistachios (or walnuts). Makes 6 servings.
Sweet Potato Turkey Chili: A quick and easy dinner prep! This meal option is lean, high in protein, and balanced with sweet potatoes and tomatoes, providing vitamin A and potassium. Turkey is a great source of Vitamin B12 which helps with energy, metabolism, and over all supports your brain and nervous system. Garlic is also a great source of anti-oxidants!
-20 oz 93% lean ground turkey (vegetarian option: replace with 1 can black beans)
-kosher salt, to taste
-1/2 cup onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, crushed
-10 oz can Rotel mild tomatoes with green chilies
-8 oz can tomato sauce
-3/4 cup water
-1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste
-1/4 tsp chili powder
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1 bay leaf
-1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
-fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a large skillet, brown turkey over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks into smaller pieces and season with salt and cumin. When meat is browned and cooked through add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the can of Rotel tomatoes, sweet potato, tomato sauce, water, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are soft and cooked through, about 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup more water if needed. Remove bay leaf and serve. Tip: Prepare your meals the night or morning before. This will help you stay on track during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. This recipe can also be easily adapted to make in a crock pot. Makes 5 servings.
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie: Great for pre and post work out nutrition, or for dessert! It is important to fuel your muscles for exercise, and just as important to provide adequate nutrition afterwards to help them recover. Avoid processed sugar and high calorie drinks or shakes that don’t provide any nutritious benefits by having one of these seasonal favorites instead. This smoothie recipe is high calcium and potassium. Adding protein will help regulate appetite, maintain blood sugar levels, and aid in muscle maintenance as well.
-1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
-1 frozen banana
-1/4 cup pumpkin
-1 scoop vanilla whey protein
-1/2 TBS honey or pure maple syrup
-1 tsp vanilla exctract
-1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Add all ingredients into a blender, press the start button and go! Tip: Add 1 cup spinach for some extra nutrition! Spinach blends very evenly and can’t be tasted! Makes 1-2 servings
Pumpkin Chickpea Cookies: A great healthy option for holiday sweets! This “cookie” is free of refined sugars and is nutrient packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats instead. Chickpeas are a great source of fiber and folate. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and anti-oxidants.
-2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
-1 cup pumpkin puree
-¼ cup almond butter
½ cup honey
-2 tablespoons flax meal (optional)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-¾ tsp baking powder
-½ tsp baking soda
-½ tsp ground ginger
-½ tsp salt
-1 cup dark chocolate chips
Rinsed and drain chickpeas, then add them to bowl of food processor or blender. Pulse 2-3 times to until chickpeas are well ground, but not quite pureed. Add the next ten ingredients, except for the chocolate chips. Then process or blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into medium bowl, then fold in the chocolate chips, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (longer is fine). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Once dough is set, use small spoon and scoop heaping spoonfuls on to the baking sheets. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cookies should be slightly firm. (Bake time will depend on the size of your cookies). Let cookies cool on the baking sheet, and share them with the whole family! Or don’t…
Lauren Lett is pursuing a UVa Health System Dietetic Internship who recently completed a rotation in the IM-Rec Sports Fitness and Wellness program.