Eat better, drink and be merry this holiday season

Turkey MeatballsHoliday gatherings can build close ties with friends and family, which build memories that last a lifetime. Traditions range from the turkey on the Thanksgiving table to beautiful holiday lights that shimmer during December festivities. When there’s something to celebrate, the tradition is typically to feast.

The kinds of foods you serve play an important role at the celebrations people attend. They can also determine how you start off the New Year. If you want to prevent dietary backpedaling in January, you need to actively limit the indulgence on the front end. Luckily, there is a way to combine “healthy” with “easy-to-do” that renders great-tasting party foods. These great recipes allow the host to prepare everything in advance and maximize the time you’re able to spend with guests.

As we wrap up 2012 and anticipate the biggest dietary season of the year, Gourmet Everyday takes a new spin in advance with the traditional cocktail party. We have proactively re-stocked the pantry with healthier ingredients for gorgeous, celebratory dishes that will add a flair to any occasion.  Guests will never know that these menu ideas will keep calories in check, are easy to prepare, and can be made in advance.

The best news is that there’s no need to wait until the holidays to enjoy them!  These robust, delicious offerings are something to celebrate and serve at any time of the year!

Marinated Cucumber, Feta, and Olive Skewers

Makes six portions

Ingredients

¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
12 ½ inch cubes of Feta cheese
Six Green Olives, cut in half
12 ½ inch cubes of English Cucumber
12 small Bamboo skewers

Directions

Whisk the orange juice and pepper together in a bowl.  Add the Feta Cubes and marinate for 15-20 minutes.  Remove feta from marinade.  Build the skewers with one piece each of the feta, olive and cucumber.

Portabella Pizzas

Makes 6 pizzas

Ingredients

Six portabella mushroom caps, gills removed
Six fresh basil leaves
Six rings of red bell pepperr
Six rings of yellow bell pepper
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ cup of marinara

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the Portabella caps on a lined cookie sheet.  Spread the marinara over the mushroom in an even layer.  Top the marinara with the bell peppers and mozzarella.  Bake until the cheese is golden brown.

Spiced Pistachios/Almonds

Makes 6 portions

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups whole almonds/pistachios; whole, blanched, and peeled
¼ cup Stevia or raw sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice blend
Olive oil spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Put nuts in a bowl and spray with enough olive oil lightly to coat.  Toss with Stevia and pumpkin spice until coated.  Spread out on a lined sheet tray.  Bake for 6-7 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool before serving.

Turkey Meatballs

Makes 6 servings of appetizer sized meatballs (1 ounce meatballs)

Ingredients

¾ pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons of diced yellow squash
2 tablespoons diced zucchini
2 tablespoons diced Red Onion
1 teaspoon chopped Italian parsley
½ teaspoon whole egg, beaten
¼ teaspoon dried Oregano
½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.  Using a 2 oz ice cream scoop or large spoon to shape the turkey into meatball.  Place on a lined cookie tray and bake until meatballs are cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.  Serve with marinara or plain.

Nutritional Information (Makes 6 servings; 1 serving = 1 ounce meatballs)
112 calories; 6.2g total fat; 92mg sodium; 0.6g carbohydrates; 0.2g fiber; 12.5g protein

Poached Shrimp with Herbed Dip Sauce

Makes 10 servings

Sauce ingredients

1 small garlic clove
1 cup organic reduced fat mayonnaise
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1/8 cup chopped fresh chives
1/8 cup chopped green onions (white and pale green parts only)
1 ½ Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Four anchovy fillets
½ tablespoon rice vinegar

Shrimp ingredients

1/4 cup kosher salt
2 pounds uncooked peeled jumbo shrimp

Sauce directions

Finely chop garlic in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Once mixture is pale green, season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Shrimp directions

Michelle Kobernick, founder of Gourmet Everyday

Bring very large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the salt to the water return to boil. Add shrimp to the water and cook just until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Drain the shrimp from the water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water; cool the shrimp completely. Drain well.  Serve shrimp with sauce.

What is your favorite holiday dish that could use a healthy spin?

This guest post is from Michelle Kobernick, founder of Gourmet Everyday, where she has assembled a team of physicians, nutritionists and chefs to create meal plans that cater to individual diet needs.

Photo credit: alanagkelly

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