5 Holiday Meals with a Healthy Twist

With the new year right around the corner, it’s easy to put off your diet for 2016 while you’re experiencing food-filled holiday celebrations at the tail end of 2015. The winter holidays are packed with irresistible feasts near the end of November and December, giving you all the more reason to pick up a few new and healthy recipes you can treat yourself to between dinner parties and family time.

Here are five healthy alternatives to a few traditional meals to let you get through whatever the holidays have to throw at you.

Southwestern Hash

This centerpiece is a hearty dish that belongs in any upcoming feast, big or small. With a blend of southwestern staples like jalapenos, cumin and black beans, the red potatoes in this recipe will taste as good as they look. Consider adding in some sliced cherry tomatoes to make it pop on the plate and in your mouth.

What you need:

  • 2 red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat if desired)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast seasoning
  • 8 oz. plain, pasteurized organic tempeh
  • 1 firm, ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

How to make:

  1. Bring potatoes to a boil in a pot of salted water. Cook until knife-tender (about 6min); drain.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium to high flame. Add cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (5 to 7 min). Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Heat remaining tbsp. oil over medium. Add jalapeno, scallions, tomatoes, beans and yeast; crumble in tempeh. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes begin to break down (5 to 7 min).
  4. Add potatoes and cook just until heated through.
  5. Remove pan from heat and gently stir in avocado.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with reserved scallion if desired.

Zucchini Pasta

For something versatile enough to be eaten right out of the pot or refrigerated for later, try incorporating zucchini into your diet as a pasta alternative. The reason is twofold: it pairs well with tomatoes, and its refreshing taste prepares your palate for the savory flavors of a potluck.

What you need:

  •  8oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. torn fresh basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzle
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 zucchini

How to make:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, torn basil and olive oil.
  2. Season with salt, let stand for 20 min.
  3. Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise, then cut slices into ¼-inch-wide strips.
  4. Add to tomato mixture and toss to combine.
  5. Garnish with whole basil leaves.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

On a frigid Thursday night, sometimes all you want is a quick and easy one-pot recipe that can warm you up on your night in. Lentils, sweet potatoes and carrots work in harmony to stave off your cravings until next holiday banquet. If you’re in the mood for something creamy, simply add a dollop of Greek yogurt to your bowl.

What you need:

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into ½ -inch dice
  • 9 oz. fresh green beans, cut into ½ -inch
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper (to taste)
  • *Optional: plain low-fat yogurt

How to make:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high flame. Add onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened (5 to 7 min).
  2. Add garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 1 min).
  3. Add 7 cups water and the lentils, and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 10min.
  5. Add potatoes and continue to cook, covered, until lentils and potatoes are just tender (about 15 min).
  6. Stir in green beans and tomatoes with their juice. Cook until warmed through, 2 to 4 min. Discard bay leaf.
  7. Add chopped cilantro; season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve topped with yogurt and garnished with cilantro leaves.

Chipotle Avocado Sandwiches

Battle the frost with a little fire in your lunchbox. For a rich, smoky flavor, create a mashed black bean spread that is easily spiced with adobo chipotle peppers that balance well with avocado slices for a quick and light meal. You will relish the variety this brings when you have leftover turkey going into December.

What you need:

  • 1 ½ cups cooked red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp. sauce
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 8 slices of whole-grain bread, toasted
  • 1 firm, ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 4 radishes, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 escarole
  • 1 cup bean sprouts

How to make:

  1. Mash beans, chipotle, and sauce until combined.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread bean mixture on 4 slices of bread.
  4. Top with avocado, radishes, escarole and sprouts.
  5. Sandwich with remaining bread and serve.

Crockpot Chili

Vegetarians are already acquainted with how versatile chili can be for any mood. It’s a welcome crockpot recipe to your meal plan because it’s versatile for many different situations. Use it as a dip for an ugly sweater party or as a delicious meal for a date night in. Try making this simple recipe instead of eating out, and save your cheat days for family dinner parties.

What you need:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can diced green pepper, 4oz
  • 1 tbsp. plus ½ tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cups cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice, 28oz
  • *Coarse salt, to taste

How to make:

  1. In crockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, poblano and garlic; season with salt.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent (about 4min).
  3. Stir in green pepper, chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, until spices are darkened and fragrant (about 3min).
  4. Add beans, tomatoes and their juice, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, and sauce is thickened (20 to 30 min).
  6. Season with salt.

Recipes are inspired and conceived by Martha Stewart’s Meatless – brought to you by Tree Classics, maker of the World’s Finest Artificial Christmas Trees, for a healthier holiday.

Bonus: Almond Butter Granola Bars

All it takes is three ingredients: honey, almond butter and good old-fashioned oats.

These bars are excellent served warm as a dessert or chilled overnight for a healthy breakfast. They’re healthier than store bought granola bars, and simple additions like fruit (hello, leftover pumpkin and apple chips) or nuts can add some lightweight variety when you’re on-the-go.

Are there any other holiday recipes you think we should spotlight? Let us know in the comments below.

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