The meaning behind Thanksgiving and the holiday season can sometimes be forgotten because the focus and attention is all on the food. Family traditions are cherished and classic dishes grace the holiday table. Unfortunately for many, caution is thrown away and everyone over-indulges with a marathon of flavors, eating non-stop, all day long. I know because I have been guilty of this very high-caloric crime myself. Now that I have a family of my own, I have taken the extra effort to make the holiday meal delicious AND healthy, without skimping on tradition or flavor.
There are simple ways you can do this. The first is by using only fresh ingredients. Cranberries, for example, don’t come from the can but from the produce section. When mixed in with other wonderful flavors like orange, ginger, pomegranate or flavored liqueur, homemade cranberry sauce has infinitely more flavor than that boring, sugary jelly that slips out of the can.
The second step to a healthy holiday is to cut the sugar back. Save the sweets for dessert, not your dinner. Squash and sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, so why drown it with marshmallows? Add a little salt instead and you have a wonderful sweet-salty combination that everyone will love.
The third step is to introduce whole grains to the table. If your family is picky, hide the good stuff. Mix in high fiber, whole-grain bread to your stuffing recipe. Or, add whole wheat flour and some wheat bran into your baking. Most recipes are pretty forgiving if you substitute half of the white all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. It is easier to alter your taste buds by making these smaller changes and slowly increasing the percentage of whole grain ingredients as time goes by.
Need a gluten-free alternative to stuffing? Try brown rice or quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain that is been rediscovered in the foodie world. It is high in fiber, high in protein and is completely gluten-free. Mix it with your green beans, add it to some salad or prepare it like a rice pilaf.
So you survived dinner, but you have a weakness for dessert – what do you do when the parade of pies makes their dramatic entrance? Try this Whole Wheat Apple and Cranberry Galette. A galette is a rustic pie. It requires less fuss than a traditional pie, which I can never make pretty and perfect no matter how hard I try!
Tart granny smith apples and fresh cranberries are lower in sugar than most other fruits. And this crust is made with whole wheat flour, wheat bran and rolled oats. It is flaky and crunchy like a traditional pie crust, but full of fiber and whole grain goodness. Make one or a dozen, change the filling to include pears, figs or any of your favorite seasonal fruits. You can also add pecans, almonds or pistachios for added protein and crunch.
Change the seasonings of the crust to make a savory galette, using sweet potatoes, string beans, tomatoes or sweet peppers.
Get creative in the kitchen and create new food traditions to your holiday table this year. Remember it CAN be both mouthwatering and healthy at the same time!
Whole Wheat Apple and Cranberry Galette
In a food processor with a metal blade combine flour, sugar and cinnamon to make the galette crust. Cut frozen butter into small pieces and half to the food processor and pulse 3 times. Add remaining butter and pulse 3 more times or until butter is the size of coarse pebbles. Add cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. Dough should now resemble coarse sand. When pressed together, the dough should stick. If not, add more water, a few drops at a time. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface, pressing together to form a ball. Roll dough ball into the wheat bran, and flatten to form a disc. The wheat bran does not need to be worked into the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate dough for 2 hours or up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350ºF and line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
Peel and core apples and cut into thin slices. Add to a mixing bowl and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients.
Remove dough from the plastic wrap and using a rolling pin, roll until a 9-10 inch circle is formed. Place dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Arrange filling into desired manner, leaving a 1-1/2 inch border of dough around the filling. You can add the apples first to make a pretty pattern then the remaining ingredients, or you can pile it all in at the same time. Fold dough edges around the filling, making pleats as needed.
Bake until edges start to brown, 45-50 minutes. Allow galette to cool at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Laura Bashar, a.k.a. Family Spice, writes about food and her life as a wife & mom of three living in San Diego, CA. She started blogging as a mission to get families back at the dinner table. Laura shares recipes using fresh ingredients from all over the world, but especially likes to feature her Persian heritage, both in recipes and traditions.