12 healthy dishes to bring to a holiday potluck party
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Healthy Holiday Potluck
Don’t let seasonal festivities be the undoing of all your hard work in the gym! We asked top nutritionists about some of their favorite things to bring to potluck affairs. Try their simple recipe ideas for everything from appetizers to desserts that will keep your clean eating on track without making you feel like you’re missing out on all the fun!
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“I love roasting almonds with some simple spices for a healthy appetizer. The almonds are filled with fiber and healthy fats so you won’t be as likely to overindulge in the rest of the meal,and the cinnamon and nutmeg add just the right holiday touch. For a savory option, season with basil and thyme.” —Jessica Crandall, R.D.N., spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, based in Denver, CO
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups raw almonds with 2 tsp each ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Place almonds in a single layer of a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes. Remove tray and stir almonds; bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly fragrant.
“With so many sweets and heavy hors d’oeuvres on holiday buffets, it’s nice to serve something light that encourages people to eat vegetables. I love offering this protein-rich dip with radishes, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and whole-grain pita chips.” —Frances Largeman-Roth, author and nutritionist based in Brooklyn, NY
Combine 1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt; 1⁄4 cup canola mayonnaise; finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon; 2 tbsp each fresh chives, fresh basil, fresh flat-leaf parsley, and fresh cilantro leaves plus 1⁄4 tsp salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture is creamy (but you can still see flecks of herbs). Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator. Serves 6.
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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
“Enjoy these healthy munchies instead of filling up on chips and creamy dips: Chickpeas are full of fiber and have protein in them as well to satisfy hunger and keep you feeling fuller longer.”—Gennifer Strobo, IFBB figure pro and nutrition coach for Bombshell Fitness
Pass on chips or pretzels and offer fiber-rich chickpeas as a snack choice.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, toss 2 (15.5-oz) cans chickpeas (rinsed, drained, and patted dry) with 1 tbsp olive oil, 11⁄2 tsp chili powder, 11⁄2 tsp ground cumin, 1⁄4 tsp salt, and 1⁄8 tsp cayenne pepper. Spread spiced chickpeas on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn, then bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
“Chili is perfect for potlucks, and it only takes a few minutes to prep the ingredients and throw in a slow cooker, so you don’t have to stress about finding the time to prepare it. Plus, everyone enjoys a warm, comforting bowl of chili! I love to make a vegan chili with all the “fixin’s” on the side—it’s always a party pleaser because everyone enjoys creating their own combinations.”—Lori Zanini, R.D., spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, based in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Combine the following ingredients in a slow cooker: 1 (15-oz) can no-salt-added red kidney beans, rinsed and drained; 1 (141⁄2-oz) can no-salt- added diced tomatoes, undrained; 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced; 1 cup water; 3 celery stalks, diced; 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced; 1 small onion, diced; 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced; 2 tbsp chili powder; 1 tbsp dried oregano; 2 tsp ground cumin; dash cayenne pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3to 4 hours. Serve with a variety of healthy toppings in small bowls, including green onions, cilantro, Greek yogurt, fresh salsa, or sliced avocado.
“These kabobs have a festive green-and-red color scheme and feel like a holiday treat, but you’ll still have a nice mix of protein from the chicken and cheese.”—Jessica Crandall
Grill chicken on the stove or grill over medium heat (you can marinate it first in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper). Once cooked through, remove chicken from heat and thread on skewers with grape or cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and small mozzarella balls.
“I like to get away from the über-fattening traditional potluck meatballs covered in a sugary glaze. Using ground-turkey breast cuts down on fat, and apples add moisture and sweetness so you can enjoy your holiday favorites without all the guilt!”—Gennifer Strobo
Place a rack in the center of the oven preheated to 425°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 lbs. skinless ground-turkey breast, 3⁄4 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs, 1 egg (lightly beaten), 1 cup diced apple, 2 tbsp fresh chopped sage, 1⁄2 tbsp each garlic powder and onion powder, 1⁄4 tsp salt, and a dash of pepper. Lightly mix to combine, being careful not to compact the meat. Roll the mixture into 11⁄2- to 2-inch balls. Place meatballs on top of a large baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until just cooked through.
In the meantime, prepare the dipping sauce by blending together 1⁄4 cup applesauce and 1⁄4 cup mustard in a small bowl. Remove meatballs from oven and place in a serving bowl with dipping sauce on the side.
“The best dish to bring to a holiday potluck is something that you want to eat! This way you know there will be a healthy option available, regardless of what everybody else decides to bring.”—Torey Jones Armul, M.S., R.D., spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
“One of my favorite dishes to bring to a holiday party is a simple roasted butternut squash flavored with rosemary or thyme, olive oil, a dash of salt, and a drizzle of honey. You can also add some hemp seeds on top for extra crunch and healthy fats.”—Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor in nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA
Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix butternut squash (peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes) with 1 tbsp rosemary, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp honey. Sprinkle 1 tbsp hemp seeds on top; roast until lightly brown and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
“This nutrient-packed side dish is Paleo-friendly and both gluten- and dairy-free. It hits all the flavors of the season but with less fat than traditional mashed potatoes. Coconut milk not only adds extra flavor, it’s also high in lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that our bodies use for energy, along with plenty of vitamins and minerals. And ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps with muscle soreness and recovery!” —Jaclyn Sklaver, owner of Fit Miss NYC, sports nutritionist, and personal trainer based in New York City
Cook 3 medium sweet potatoes, either in the microwave, boiled in water on the stove, or baked in the oven, until they are soft inside. Let potatoes cool. Peel and chop 1 tbsp ginger root. Peel skin off sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl; add ginger and 3⁄4 cup light coconut milk. Mash ingredient together and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with 1 oz chopped walnuts, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Coconut milk offers up a rich, creamy taste that’s also plentiful in important nutrients. Just be sure to stick with the light variety to cut down on the calorie count.
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“A traditional apple pie à la mode can have up to 1,000 calories and 23 grams or more of fat! This Baked-Apple- Pie Parfait is delicious, is a generous serving size, and still only has 230 calories. Plus, each serving includes an entire apple that has been baked with cinnamon and has only 1.5 grams of fat.” —Molly Morgan, R.D., owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions and author of Skinny-Size It: 101 Recipes That Will Fill You Up and Slim You Down
Preheat oven to 350°F. Core and slice 3 medium apples and place in a small mixing bowl. Add 11⁄2 tbsp agave nectar and 11⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon; toss to coat. Transfer apple slices to baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. To serve, place apples in a large serving bowl over 9 oz vanilla yogurt. Garnish with 1⁄2 cup granola if desired.
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Sweet Potato Protein Pie
“This recipe is a great alternative to traditional sweet potato pie—it’s high in protein and low in sugar, so you can indulge in a healthy slice without the guilt. Plus, it’s quick and easy to make so it’s perfect for those who don’t have a lot of cooking experience.” —Michelle Johnson, IFBB bikini pro, performance nutritionist, and coach for Team Knockouts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Microwave 1 lb. sweet potatoes (poke holes with a fork to release steam) until soft. Allow potatoes to cool, then remove peel and cut into small pieces. Place potatoes in a mixing bowl and add 1⁄2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 2 eggs, 1⁄3 cup sugar-free applesauce, 2 scoops vanilla whey-protein powder, 3⁄4 cup stevia or Truvia sweetener, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Blend well with an electric mixer. Spray a 9-inch circular baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour. Top with sugar-free or light whipped cream or Cool Whip.
“Serve this fragrant and colorful compote on its own or over Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Cooking it in a slow cooker makes it super convenient to prepare, and it’s gluten-free. It makes about 12 1⁄2-cup servings, so the amount of sugar you’re getting per serving is actually fairly low.”—Kitty Broihier, M.S., R.D., co-author of Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking
In a slow cooker, stir together 21⁄4 cups hot water, 11⁄3 cups sugar, 1⁄2 cup wine (you could sub in 1⁄3 cup apple juice plus 1 tbsp lemon juice for wine), 1 tsp orange or lemon zest, 1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract, and a pinch of kosher salt; continue stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Add 4 ripe pears (Bosc, Anjou, or Bartlett) that have been peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add 11⁄2 cups dried apricots and 1 cup dried cherries (or cranberries); stir well. Cover and cook 6 hours on low (or 3 hours on high). The pears should be tender, and the dried fruit should be plumped. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve later.
Use dried fruit like cranberries or cherries to sweeten desserts without having to add extra sugar.