Healthy Twists on 5 Holiday Recipes
January is the most magical time of year in the Fitness Industry. Mention the phrase New Year’s resolutions to any gym manager and you’ll get a knowing nod: (and perhaps that creepy Dr. Evil tented finger tap) “aaah yesss, January people.” More new health club membership revenue is brought in during the month of January than all other months of the year. By January 31 new memberships typically taper off, and by end of February we’re back to the 80/20 rule: 80% of those with gym memberships end up paying for the 20% who actually use the facilities.
It’s been happening for decades! This is one of the reasons why we do pre-paid group classes. They are so much more effective than drop-ins. Why? You’re mentally committed to specific dates and times in your calendar, classes progress in difficulty each week, and you’re accountable to both your teacher and fellow group students – the same group you see for months on end.
But I digress. This is an article about healthy holiday recipes. It’s an article about navigating the eggnog/shortbread/chocolate truffle season like a healthy holiday ninja. Bam! Here’s to avoiding falling into the trap of being one of those “January people” that gyms LOVE.
I am on your side! Without further ado, here are some delicious and easy recipes that will leave you and even the toughest crowd feeling satisfied; just don’t mention the words “paleo”, “vegan” or “gluten free” and they will be none the wiser.
Chocolate Coconut Pomegranate Bark (vegan, gluten free, paleo)
- 10 oz (or about 1 ¼ cup) of Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or other pure dark chocolate) melted
- ½ cup finely grated coconut flakes
- ½ – 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- ½ teaspoon finely crushed sea salt
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler: Fit a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir until fully melted, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pot and stir in coconut and half of the pomegranate seeds
- Spread out melted chocolate on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread with a spatula to just under ¼ inch thick (it does not need to fill the entire sheet). Sprinkle chocolate with remaining pomegranate seeds and sea salt.
- Chill for 20 to 30 minutes or until firm. Break or cut into pieces and store in an airtight container, separating the layers with wax paper. This is best served the same day it is made otherwise condensation may form on the surface.
Sugar Plum Crumble (gluten free, vegan)
- 2 pounds plums, halved, pitted and sliced (no need to peel – I like ‘em sliced thin)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder (can use cornstarch if you don’t have arrowroot)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
- ½ cup almond meal or almond flour, lightly packed
- ⅓ cup silvered almonds or chopped walnuts/pistachios
- ¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates, chopped (this is what makes it amazing!!)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a 9 x 9 inch baking dish, mix together the sliced plums, honey, arrowroot or cornstarch and cinnamon.
- In mixing bowl, stir together the oats, almond meal, almonds, brown sugar, dates, ginger and salt. Mix in the melted butter. Stir until the mixture is moistened throughout.
- Dollop spoonfuls of the oat mixture over the filling and use your fingers to break up the mixture until it is evenly distributed (no need to pack it down). Bake for 55 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the top is lightly golden. Let the crisp rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Try not to devour in one sitting (this will be a challenge). Delicious for breakfast too!
Chickpea Chocolate-Chip Blondies (vegan, gluten free)
- 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, almond butter, or your fav nut butter
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (can always add more for extra chocolatey goodness!)
- Sea salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 8 × 8-inch pan with butter or coconut oil
- In a food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips. Process until batter is smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and spread batter evenly in prepared pan with a buttered spatula. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chocolate chips over top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and edges are very light brown.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with sea salt and cut into 16 squares.
Banana Pecan Shortbread (gluten free, vegan: adapted from the Minimalist Baker)
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
- 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cream oil, sugar and banana.
- Add vanilla, sea salt and blend.
- Add flour and blend. Add pecans and mix once more.
- Transfer to a large piece of parchment paper and roll into a tight log, ~ 2 inches wide. Freeze for 15 minutes to harden.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Unroll paper and slice cookies into slightly less than 1/2 inch discs with a sharp knife. If the dough has become too hard, let it rest for a few minutes at room temp to soften. If it’s too soft, freeze longer.
- Place on an un-greased baking sheet. They won’t spread much, so they can be placed close together.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes at 350 degrees, or until light golden brown.
- Yields about 30 cookies.
Prosciutto Wrapped Arugula Pears (gluten free, paleo)
- 1 bundle arugula leaves
- 1 ripe bosc pear (medium sliced lengthwise)
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 slices prosciutto di Parma
- blue cheese (optional: if you want to get decadent)
Place arugula in bowl. Quarter the pear lengthwise and remove the core. Cut into quarters and then in half again. Dress the pear with the juice of 1/2 lemon, thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place a few arugula leaves (and blue cheese if desired) on each slice of prosciutto with a slice of pear and roll up into a tight bundle. Cut each bundle in half, to make 16 pieces.
Quinoa Vegetable Risotto with Avocado Cream (vegan, gluten free)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 zucchini, cubed
- handful of green beans, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 2 leeks, diced
- 2 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (optional)
- juice of 2 lemons
Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Place in a saucepan. Dissolve the vegetable stock into the boiling water, and pour over the quinoa. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Place sweet potato and tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400F for 25 minutes (or until soft).
Make the avocado cream by blending avocado, coconut milk and lemon until smooth, refrigerate until you need it. Sauté the leeks, green beans and peas. When soft add the cooked quinoa and the roasted vegetables. Mix well, seasoning to taste. Serve with the avocado cream and a big green salad.