Staying healthy through the holidays is challenging when temptations are all around you! Try these delicious healthy recipes at your holiday table this year.
Finding some healthy recipes you enjoy to share with your friends and family can help you avoid some of the not-so-healthy options at the table.
Fall brings an abundance of healthy fruits and veggies—figs, pears, pumpkins, pomegranates, persimmons, sweet potatoes, and winter squash to name a few. So, being good doesn’t have to be so bad!
Check out the health benefits of 3 of our favorite fall superfood fruits and veggies, and some yummy holiday recipes!
- Low-Fat Apple Cranberry Cobbler
Apples and cranberries are two of our superfood fruits, and this apple cranberry cobbler can be served at breakfast or as a delicious dessert. Leave the peelings on your apples for extra nutrition and fiber.
Prep time: About 20 minutes
Cooking time: About 25 to 30 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
- 3 apples, cored and cut into bite-sized chunks
- ½ cup fresh cranberries
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup water or apple juice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup skim milk
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place apples, cranberries, honey, water or apple juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until apples are tender and cranberries pop and open, about 20 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt, and blend thoroughly.
- Add milk and canola oil to the dry mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
- Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray, and then fill it with the warm apple mixture.
- Drop dough by the spoonful onto top of apple mixture, covering evenly.
- Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
Per serving: Calories 143 (From Fat 17); Fat 2g (Saturated 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 156mg; Carbohydrate 31g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 3g.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
Cranberries are very tart little red berries. They’re related to blueberries, so they have many of the same properties. This berry is native to North America and was first discovered by Europeans in 1550. The Pilgrims used cranberries, and cranberry sauce is traditionally served in the United States at Thanksgiving alongside the turkey and stuffing.
Cranberries contain phytochemicals that help block bacterial growth, especially in the urinary tract. Cranberry juice has been a home remedy for prevention of bladder infections for many years.
One cup of cranberries also contains 13 milligrams of vitamin C that help keep your immune system and blood vessels strong. Cranberries are very low in calories with no fat and little natural sugar. Cranberries have other benefits, too.
- They keep your heart healthy. The phenols in cranberries help keep your arteries clear. According to The British Journal of Nutrition in 2008, cranberry juice may reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, blood fats that may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- They treat and prevent bladder infections. Bladder infections (also called cystitis) usually require antibiotic therapy; however, cranberries can speed the healing time and prevent future infections. Hippuric acid a compound found in cranberries, keeps urine acidic and prevents bacteria from sticking to the walls of your bladder, so the bacteria can’t catch on and proliferate.
- They promote a healthy digestive tract. Some of the phytochemicals found in cranberries fight off food-borne pathogens and may help keep you from getting sick at a picnic when someone leaves the potato salad out too long.
- They fight cavities. Cranberries’ antibacterial properties extend to your mouth and may help to kill the bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
- Baked Apples
This old favorite is packed with some great superfoods. Furthermore, apples come in three colors to choose from, all of which are different in taste or texture. With almonds, cranberries and even a touch of cinnamon, this recipe is great on everyone’s table—but remember portion control!
Some types of apples don’t cook as well as others, so pay attention to the apples that we suggest for this recipe. If you’d like to try another type of apple, ask your grocer for a recommendation, or just keep in mind that you may not get the same results.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons chopped nuts
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or brown sugar sucralose
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 large apples, such as Gala, Rome, Golden Delicious, or Granny Smith
- ¾ cup apple juice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Light whipped topping, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine almonds, cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in bowl. Mix until all ingredients are coated with sugar.
- Core the apples, and then slice off about ½ inch of each core and plug the bottom of each apple. Place apples upright in nonstick or glass baking dish.
- Spoon ¼ of the sugar mixture into each apple.
- Pour the apple juice into the dish, and drizzle canola oil over each apple. Cover the apples with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, or until apples are tender. Serve apples as they are, or add a small amount of light whipped topping.
Per serving: Calories 267 (From Fat 86); Fat 10g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 1mg; Sodium 4mg; Carbohydrate 49g (Dietary Fiber 7g); Protein 1g.
Health Benefits of Apples
Does eating an apple a day really keep the doctor away? It actually might: Apples are low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber.
The nutrients, fiber, and flavonoids in apples work to keep you healthy in several sways. In fact, research shows several benefits of eating apples.
- They fight high blood pressure. According to The Journal of Nutrition in 2007, quercetin helps to lower blood pressure in humans.
- They’re good for your lungs. The flavonoids work like antihistamines and anti-inflammatory agents to reduce the severity of asthma attacks and allergic symptoms. A 2001 study in The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine shows that people who eat five or more apples each week have a decreased risk of chronic lung disease.
- They protect from cancer. The journal Prostate reported in 2008 that in laboratory tests, quercetin slows the growth of cancerous cells without harming prostate cells. The American Cancer Society suggests that eating a diet rich in fruits like apples may help to prevent a variety of cancers.
- They keep your mind sharp and clear. Older people who eat more apples and drink apple juice may have stronger brain function. According to The Journal of Alzheimer’s disease in 2006, flavonoids help protect your brain from free-radical damage.
- They help you lose weight. Because apples are rich in fiber, they keep you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to snack on high-calorie snack foods. (An apple has only about 90 calories.) Their sweet, juicy flavor and crunchy texture make fresh apples a healthy dessert or afternoon snack.
- They help maintain a healthy digestive system and regulate cholesterol levels. These benefits can also be credited to the high fiber content of apples.
- They help fight viral infections, like colds and flu, plus they keep connective tissue healthy. One apple contains about 8 milligrams of vitamin C (about 8 percent of the daily requirement).
- Roasted Beets
Red beets are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Roast the beets in your oven to serve as a simple side dish with a little salt and pepper. For extra flavor and variety, add a sprinkling of goat cheese on top of the roasted beets.
Prep time: About 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes
Yield: 5 servings
- 1 bunch small, fresh beets (3 to 4 beets)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash beets and remove tops.
- Place beets on a large sheet of aluminum foil, and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the foil over and seal the edges to make a pouch. Use a knife to make a small slit in the foil to allow steam to escape.
- Put the pouch on a baking sheet and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tender (when a knife slides easily into a beet).
- Remove from the oven and carefully open the pouch. Let the beets cool at least 20 minutes before sliding the skins off and serving with salt and pepper.
Per serving: Calories 98 (From Fat 74); Fat 8g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 164mg; Carbohydrate 6g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 1g.
Health Benefits of Beets
Red beets are rich in nutrients and fiber and low in calories, with a deliciously sweet flavor. Beets also contain antioxidants and other healthy phytochemicals. The red pigments in beets contain antioxidants called betalains that may help to reduce risk of heart disease and other chronic disease. According to research reported in 2005 in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, betalains protect your body from oxidative stress damage caused by free radicals (particles that occur as by-products from normal metabolism or from exposure to smoke, pollution, or too much sun).
Beets are also rich in a substance called betaine that reduces homocysteine levels (elevated homocysteine levels correlate with having a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Betaine may also aid in digestion and improve your metabolism, the rate at which you burn calories.
When you eat beets, you reap the following benefits:
- They protect your heart. The combination of folate, fiber, betaine, and sterols helps to protect your heart by reducing homocysteine levels and keeping cholesterol levels in check. And, according to an article published in 2006 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, betalains prevent oxidative damage to blood cholesterol.
- They may prevent a birth defect. Beets are rich in folate. Mothers-to-be who are deficient in folate are more likely to give birth to babies born with spina bifida, a defect of the spinal cord and vertebrae.
- They fight metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of obesity, elevated cholesterol, elevated glucose (blood sugar), and high blood pressure. People with metabolic syndrome have a high risk of cardiovascular disease. According to an article published in 2008 in The Journal of Nutrition research subjects with metabolic syndrome had lower concentrations of betaine in their blood. Beets are rich in betaine.
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