Recipes for a Healthy Holiday Season

The holidays are approaching! For many of us, that means the days are blurring into a whirl of constant activity. Whether you're trying to meet your last deadlines before a holiday break, fighting the crowds to get your shopping done, heading off to a different gathering every weekend, or all of the above, one thing's certain: December is a busy time.

When your calendar is this packed, and it seems like you're being offered a different sweet at every turn, it can be tempting to let your healthy diet slip for the month. You don't have to abandon hope, though! With just a little bit of planning, you can prep meals in advance to prepare for the busy times. 

Try these easy, seasonal, and delicious recipes from TRANSCEND and stave off the urge to settle for a cookie instead of a meal.

Cheers to a happy, healthy holiday season!

 

Oven-Steamed Chicken and Leeks

Steaming food in packets shortens the cooking time, keeps the ingredients moist and flavorful, and helps maintain the nutrient content of the food. It's convenient to make these packets ahead of time to pop in the oven for an easy, healthy dinner.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each)
  • 4 teaspoons coarse Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 leeks (white part only), cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • Fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice the chicken breast in half lengthwise to make 4 equal portions. Place one piece of chicken in the center of a 1-foot length of aluminum foil. Top with 1 teaspoon of the mustard and one-quarter of the leeks and carrots. Sprinkle with thyme and pepper. Purse the foil into a packet and crimp the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Arrange the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 165°F. 

  • 4 Servings
  •  

    Cauliflower with Indian Spices

    Turmeric and other fragrant Indian spices add kick to cauliflower -- a healthy low-calorie cruciferous vegetable. Curcumin, an important component of turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory that combats cancer, Alzheimer's, and other conditions.

    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 small jalapeño chile pepper, finely chopped (discard seeds if you don't want too much heat)
    • 1 piece fresh ginger (2"), peeled and finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 small red-skinned potatoes, chopped in 3/4" pieces
    • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
    • 2/3 cup water, plus more if needed
    • 1/2 cup frozen peas

    Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepper, ginger, cumin, and coriander. Cook for 15 to 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add the turmeric, salt, potatoes, and cauliflower. Toss to coat. Add the water, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.

    Let the vegetable mixture simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the cauliflower and potatoes are tender. (Add a little more water if the pan begins to dry out.)

    Uncover and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the peas and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook for 5 minutes or until the remaining liquid is gone and the vegetables are slightly browned.

  • 6 Servings
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    Garlicky Kale

    Kale is loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect the body from cancer. If you are on blood thinners, it is important to try to maintain a stable vitamin K intake because changes in consumption affect the results of your dosage. Tangy lemon brightens the earthiness of the kale and naturally helps minimize the browning (oxidation) of the leaves.

    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/4 cup water

    Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.

    Add the kale and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, tossing as it wilts. Stir in the lemon juice. 

    Add the water and cover. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Do not overcook (the kale should remain dark green).

  • 2 Servings
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    Happy Holidays!

    We hope your holiday season is healthy, merry, and bright. We'll see you in the New Year!

    Next article TRANSCEND's Guide to a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner