There are two things I love about the holidays: family and food. And I definitely get plenty of both. Most of us get involved in the cooking experience, and we prepare our meal in a light and healthy fashion. Yes, light and healthy, and it tastes delicious.
Holiday dishes don’t have to be heavy and fattening to taste great. Not only can your families’ favorite dishes be nutritious and delicious, but they can be easy enough to make so that everyone, including your kids, will want to participate. Kids’ eyes will light up when you show them how they can take fresh ingredients and transform them into vibrant and flavorful dishes that taste fantastic and are healthy too!
Below are a handful of simple tips that you and your family can use, so you can continue to enjoy your holiday dishes together for years to come.
Go For Fresh: Go with fresh items whenever possible such as green beans, sweet potatoes/yams, and cranberries. For a healthy spin on green bean casserole, try the one in this Holiday Stuffed Turkey recipe.
Cranberries: Fresh cranberries, a Thanksgiving staple, are tart as ever. If you want to sweeten them, use honey or agave nectar. Or add some diced or chopped naturally sweet fruit. Cranberries can also make great outdoor and indoor decorations. Using fishing string, have your kids string them together with popped corn to spruce up trees and feed the birds.
Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are as good as it gets but sometimes they’re a miss because they can be heavy, especially with gravy. To keep them light, substitute half the potatoes with fresh cauliflower like in the Steak & Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes recipe. Kids will love mashing the ingredients, then spooning up a taste of their creation.
Yams: When it comes to vegetable dishes, candied yams are popular. Have your kids help you peel those fresh vegetables. Yams are naturally sweet, so take advantage of that and add just a bit of honey, agave nectar or turbinado (unrefined) sugar. Or, try this healthier Sweet Potato Casserole.
Stuffing: Stuffing is a staple on my plate for Thanksgiving. Take old bread (your favorite preferred) and cut into bite sized pieces, like a large crouton. Then mix them in a bowl with sage, parsley, oregano, celery, mushrooms, eggs, etc… This is a perfect dish to introduce children to a variety of ingredients, and show them how to cut and chop. Try making it in a muffin tin, like in this Balsamic Chicken & Stuffing Muffins recipe.
Herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley and mint can be more than just garnishes. Try using herbs as greens in a salad. Tear up bite sized pieces of fresh basil and toss into a bowl with spinach, pomegranate, toasted pecans, thinly sliced red onion and a light dressing. Popping out pomegranate seeds is definitely a kid’s activity, as they’ll love seeing and tasting the ruby red treats hidden within the white pith of the fruit. Carefully cut the pomegranate into four pieces, then place in a large bowl of water (this will help minimize the juicy mess) and peel away. The white stuff will float to the top, separating the ruby jewels.
I’ve just offered some practical and easy tips on how to add more flavor, more health and more fun when it comes to preparing great tasting holiday dishes. There is so much opportunity to involve your family in the cooking process during the holidays. Just give them an apron, and your family will be set to get cooking together in the kitchen this holiday season!
What dishes will you be cooking up as a family this holiday season? How do you get your little ones involved in the process?