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Party Time: Guilt-Free Holiday Recipes

Dieting around the holidays? Bah, humbug! Here, 12 guilt-free, crowd-pleasing ways to enjoy the season's eatings.

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Evan Sklar
Wild Mushroom Crostini
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Evan Sklar
Prev 13 of 13 Next
Prev 1 of 13 Next

Appetizers: Sweet and Smoky Pecans

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients; mix well.

2. Spread the nuts on the baking sheet; roast, tossing halfway through, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Let the nuts cool. Serve.

Nutrition facts per serving: 220 calories, 3g protein, 8g carbohydrate, 22g fat (1.9g saturated), 3g fiber

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Prev 2 of 13 Next

Appetizers: Wild Mushroom Crostini

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 slices whole wheat baguette
Olive oil spray
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste.

2. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil and spread the mushrooms in the pan. Roast, tossing every 5 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to crisp in spots, about 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, lightly spray the baguette slices on both sides with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until the tops are golden, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle each toast with 1/2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melted.

4. Pile the mushrooms on the toasted baguette slices; serve.

Nutrition facts per serving: 198 calories, 7g protein, 29g carbohydrate, 5g fat (0.6g saturated), 4g fiber

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Prev 3 of 13 Next

Appetizers: Cheese, Bacon, and Cranberry Endive Boats

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
6 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
12 endive leaves
4 thin slices turkey bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled
2 tablespoons dried cranberries

Directions
1. In a bowl, combine the blue cheese and sour cream, mashing together roughly with a fork.

2. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of the blue cheese mixture into each leaf.

3. Top with crumbled bacon and dried cranberries and serve.

Nutrition facts per serving:
105 calories, 6g protein, 5g carbohydrate, 7g fat (3.7g saturated), 2g fiber

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Prev 4 of 13 Next

Appetizers: Goat Cheese and Apple Canapes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 large red apple, cored and cut into 24 thin slices
24 watercress leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese and honey.

2. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture onto each apple slice and top with a watercress leaf.

3. Arrange the canapes on a platter and sprinkle with black pepper.

Nutrition facts per serving: 45 calories, 1g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 1.5g fat (1g saturated), 1g fiber

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Prev 5 of 13 Next

Appetizers: Artichoke Dip

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts in water, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to a rough puree (the texture of bean dip).

2. Spread the dip in a shallow 8-inch ovenproof serving dish and bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with pita chips.

Nutrition facts per serving: 68 calories, 5g protein, 9g carbohydrate, 2g fat (1g saturated), 4g fiber

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Prev 6 of 13 Next

Side Dishes: Buttermilk-and-Chive Mashed Potatoes

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, warmed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Black pepper

Directions
1. Place the potatoes in a large, heavy saucepan with the salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are completely tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well.

2. Return the potatoes to the pan and stir over low heat for a few minutes to cook off some of the moisture. Add the butter; stir until melted.

3. Take the pan off the heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Stir in as much warm buttermilk as needed to make a smooth, creamy puree. (You may not need all of it.) Stir in the chives and season with black pepper to taste.

Nutrition facts per serving: 143 calories, 4g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 2g fat (1.5g saturated), 2g fiber

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Prev 7 of 13 Next

Side Dishes: Green Beans with Olive-Almond Relish

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons prepared green-olive tapenade
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions
1. In a pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring an inch of water to a boil. Add the green beans, cover, and steam until just tender, about 8 minutes.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the tapenade, lemon zest, and juice.

3. Place the steamed green beans in a bowl and drizzle the tapenade mixture over them. Scatter almonds on top and serve.

Nutrition facts per serving: 72 calories, 2g protein, 6g carbohydrate, 5g fat (0.6g saturated), 3g fiber

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Prev 8 of 13 Next

Side Dishes: Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch rings
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a piece of aluminum foil and roast until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly.

2. Trim the ends and pull off the peels; slice into 1/2-inch rounds.

3. Butter a small (3-1/2-quart) casserole dish with half the butter. In a bowl, stir together the cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Arrange half the apple rings and sweet-potato rounds in alternating layers in the dish; sprinkle with half the spice mixture and half the maple syrup. Layer in the rest of the apples and sweet potatoes, ending with the apples. Sprinkle with the remaining spices, drizzle with the remaining syrup; dot with the rest of the butter.

4. Cover and bake until the apples are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving: 111 calories, 1g protein, 22g carbohydrate, 3g fat (1.9g saturated), 2g fiber

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Prev 9 of 13 Next

Dessert: Red-Wine-Poached Pears with Red-Wine Drizzle

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick 3 cloves
3 large, firm pears, peeled and halved, cores scooped out
1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla ice cream

Directions
1. In a large saucepan, combine the wine, water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Simmer 10 minutes.

2. Add the pear halves to the pan cut sides down. Cover and simmer gently until the pears are completely tender, about 10 minutes. Gently transfer the pears to a plate.

3. Raise the heat and boil the poaching liquid until it's reduced to a syrup (you'll have about 1/2 cup), about 30 minutes.

4. Serve each pear half with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of the syrup.

Nutrition facts per serving: 247 calories, 1g protein, 45g carbohydrate, 1g fat (0.5g saturated), 4g fiber

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Prev 10 of 13 Next

Dessert: Apple Pie with Walnut Crust

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients
Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Filling
5 Golden Delicious apples (2 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions
1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, walnuts, confectioner's sugar, salt, and cinnamon until the mixture resembles fine cracker crumbs. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Add the sour cream and vegetable oil and pulse until just combined.

2. Scoop the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it into a disk. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss together the filling ingredients.

4. Cut the chilled dough in half and return half to the refrigerator. Roll out the other half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an 11-inch round. Peel off the top piece of plastic wrap and invert the rolled dough over an 8-inch glass pie plate. Place the filling in the pie plate.

5. Roll out the second half of the dough and gently lay it on top of the filling. Trim the overhanging dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie plate. Fold the edge of the dough over and crimp all around. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 vents in the top center of the pie.

6. Bake the pie until the apples are completely tender, about 45 minutes. Cover the edge of the crust with foil after 30 minutes if it is browning too quickly.

Nutrition facts per serving: 331 calories, 5g protein, 43g carbohydrate, 17g fat (4.9g saturated), 2g fiber

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Prev 11 of 13 Next

Dessert: Chocolate Drops with Pistachios and Cherries

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Makes: 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 egg whites
Small pinch salt
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
1/3 cup chopped toasted pistachios

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and flour.

2. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add the confectioner's sugar. When all the sugar has been added, raise the speed to high and beat until the whites have a marshmallow-like consistency. Beat in the vanilla.

3. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in half the melted chocolate, then half the cocoa-flour mixture, scraping the side of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining chocolate and cocoa-flour mixture.

4. Fold in the cherries and pistachios; let the mixture sit until thick enough to scoop, about 5 minutes.

5. Scoop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets by level teaspoonfuls, leaving about an inch between cookies. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, until the cookies are brown and crackled on the outside.

6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 1 minute, then transfer them to a wire rack. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Nutrition facts per serving: 30 calories, 1g protein, 4g carbohydrate, 1.5g fat (0.7g saturated), 0g fiber

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Prev 12 of 13 Next

Dessert: Pear and Cranberry Crisp

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
Filling
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 pounds firm pears (4 large or 5 small pears), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons rolled oats
Pinch ground nutmeg
Small pinch salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and softened

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the cranberries in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let soak until plump, about 15 minutes. Drain well.

2. Combine the almonds, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, oats, nutmeg, and salt in a food processor; pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles granola.

3. In a 10-inch glass pie plate or baking dish, combine the drained cranberries with the pears, maple syrup, flour, and vanilla. Toss well. Scatter the topping over the fruit.

4. Bake the crisp until the topping is well browned, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

Nutrition facts per serving: 260 calories, 3g protein, 49g carbohydrate, 7g fat (3.3g saturated), 6g fiber

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2009.

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