Monday, December 3, 2012

Healthy (& Awesome) Holiday Food Tips

We've got a guest post this week from Crowbar Crew member Susan Evans.  Susan teaching RealRuder Cycling on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 and she's an amazing cook and caterer.  She's offered up some great ideas for keeping holiday eating both healthy and fabulous.  Thanks for sharing Susan! 

It's that time again to entertain, however, entertaining sometimes leads to unhealthy eating, but that doesn't always have to be the case. You can incorporate fruits,  vegetables and lighter fare in your entertaining to reduce the caloric intake while still enjoying the holidays.  It doesn't all have to be bread and cheese, though those things can be used, just sparingly. 

Tip #1. Vegetables 
Use veggies with a delicious tasting hummus. Hummus is a blank canvas and you can add your favorite flavorings.  Add your favorite veggies-- carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, zucchini strips and you have a healthy appetizer.  Put the hummus in individual plastic shot cups with the veggies stuck in the hummus for a more festive look (and no double-dipping!).
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
  • 8 dashes Tabasco sauce
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste for seasoning and serve chilled or at room temperature.
Flavor additions
·       zest and juice of one lemon
·       2 T dill weed and 1 t cumin
·       2 rosemary springs chopped finely, juice of one lemon, 1 t oregano
·       6 oz jarred red pepper, 3 T cilantro, 1 t paprika
·       1/4 c chopped parsley, 6 basil leaves, 1 medium scallion finely chopped, 1 T dill, 1 t honey

Tip #2. Tomatoes and cheese
Everyone loves tomatoes and mozzarella. Cube the fresh mozzarella and marinate overnight in lemon juice, oregano flakes, and olive oil then skewer with cherry tomatoes and a basil leaf. More veggies!

Tip #3.Smoked salmon sushi
If you are adventurous, you can try this easy and elegant way to make sushi with smoked salmon.

1.5 cups sushi rice
2 T rice wine vinegar
2 t sugar
2 t mirin
2 t water
1 1/2 t salt
7  71/2 X 8-inch nori sheets
11/2 t wasabi paste
Scallion-soy dipping sauce

Boil rice for 14-16 minutes with 2 cups of water then simmer on low. Combine vinegar, sugar, mirin, water, and salt in a small saucepan. Warm the mixture over medium-low heat until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 2 minutes. Set aside.  Transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the vinegar mixture to the warm cooked rice, stirring constantly, until all of the vinegar is incorporated into the rice. Let cool completely. Toast the nori sheets to enhance the flavor. Using tongs, pass over an open flame for a few seconds, careful not to burn.

Place the sheet of toasted nori, shiny side down, on a dry clean work surface. Dampen your fingers with water and spread 1 cup of lightly packed rice onto the nori. Make sure to spread the rice evenly and all the way to the edges of the sheet. Wet your fingers again and dab 1/2 t of wasabi paste over the layer of rice, carefully spreading evenly. Place a thin layer of smoked salmon over the rice, trimming the edges to fit the sheet of nori, top with a second sheet of nori, shiny side down, and gently smooth the top layer with a rolling pin. Pressing down firmly seals the layers and makes them easier to cut. Repeat the process 2 more times, creating a total of 3 layers, ending with a final sheet of nori, shiny-side up this time. Wrap in plastic wrap, weight with a can, and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours; over night is best. Using a very sharp, wet knife, trim the edges of the nori stacks to measure 6 X 7 inches, then 1 X 1 1/2 inch pieces, wetting the knife after each cut. Garnish each piece with a strip of ginger. Serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce

1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
scallions for garnish

Whisk soy sauce and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add cut scallions for garnish

Tip #4. Don't Skip Breakfast
After all of your entertaining, you will need a good breakfast the next morning. Try a lighter version of bagel and lox. Toast small square party bread in pumpernickel or whole grain flavors. Spread with 1 1/2  t of low fat  (not no fat) cream cheese. Place a small amount of smoked salmon (leftover from the smoked salmon sushi) a couple of slices of red onion (that have been soaked in red wine vinegar for 10 minutes), a slice of cucumber,  1 T of chopped tomato, a few capers, and garnish with chopped chives.  Serve alongside scrambled eggs. 

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