Tag: fall fest

7 Lighter Ways to Kick Off Your Holiday Meal

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, December 1, 2016

As much as we love baked Brie wrapped in phyllo dough, the best-executed holiday cocktail hours consist of light, refreshing bites that anticipate the meal ahead — without spoiling it completely. If there’s a creamy, bubbling-hot dip on the table, it should come as no surprise when your meticulously arranged crudite platter goes untouched and, worst of all, your guests are too stuffed to enjoy the main event. Small bites that are not only light but also quick and easy to make are best for everyone in attendance — especially the host — so choose recipes that require no more than 20 minutes of prep work (the less time, the better). Here are five finger foods you can count on to hit the mark at your upcoming soiree.

Vegetarian Spinach-Walnut Pate (pictured at top)
This creamy, spinach-packed appetizer spreads like pate, and the tart bursts of pomegranate seeds remind us of caviar. Set it out with an array of fresh vegetables and crackers, for dipping.

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7 Lighter Takes on Essential Thanksgiving Sides

by in Healthy Holidays, Healthy Recipes, Thanksgiving, November 17, 2016

Is there anything more necessary than a generous scoop of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving? A slice of hot buttered cornbread is nice, too. Some would even say it’s the green bean casserole that really makes the meal special. Personal preferences aside, we can all agree that the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving — next to the smorgasbord of pie, of course. And since we only get to enjoy this celebratory feast one day each year, why not dig in to the indulgent dishes that are so representative of the holiday?

Then again, if you plan on having a lot of leftovers, you could be enjoying these dishes for a few days (or an entire week) after Thanksgiving has passed. That’s incentive to throw some healthier options into the mix. Here are the classic, comforting sides we all long for, with a few alterations to make each one less of a splurge. As it turns out, your healthiest Thanksgiving could be your most-traditional yet.

Mashed Potatoes (pictured above)
Food Network Kitchen prepares these Mock Mashed Potatoes using cauliflower in place of traditional Yukon Golds, which results in a creamy mash that will have everyone at the table fooled. Garlic and thyme add flavor depth while nonfat Greek yogurt and a little Parmesan bring in some dairy richness and tang.

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7 Healthy Ways to Turn Carrots Into Cake

by in Healthy Recipes, November 10, 2016

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means our opportunities for sampling fresh baked goods are about to quadruple. If you’re choosing between a mammoth slice of cake festooned with buttery frosting and a modest piece of carrot cake, the carrot cake is clearly the better choice. Carrots are in peak season right now, and when used in baking, this vivid orange vegetable offers wonderful texture and natural sweetness. Still, the usual embellishments — chopped nuts, dried fruit, cream cheese frosting — all present opportunities for refined sugar and added fat to sneak in. So whether you prefer your carrots in cake, cupcake or muffin form, follow these six tips for turning your favorite carrot desserts into health-minded fall treats.

Use Whole-Wheat Flour
Whole-wheat pastry flour and pumpkin pie spice add great nutty flavor to Food Network Kitchen’s rustic Carrot Cake, while buttermilk and grated carrots keep the batter extra moist. Confectioners’ sugar and reduced-fat cream cheese yield a still-sweet, still-tangy frosting for very few extra calories.

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5 Healthier Ways to Spruce Up Brussels Sprouts

by in Healthy Recipes, November 3, 2016

Brussels sprouts are a pretty divisive vegetable: You either love them or hate them. But developing a love of these cabbagelike little bundles really comes down to finding a preparation method that suits your tastes. Some eaters adore the nutty intensity of roasted whole Brussels sprouts. Others might prefer them deconstructed in a salad, or doctored up with nuts or bacon. Taking the time to find your favorite preparation method is well worth the effort, since Brussels sprouts can produce some of the easiest, most-affordable side dishes around. Here are a few renditions that you’ll definitely want to tuck away in your recipe book, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner.

Winter Slaw
Similar to a coleslaw but so much lighter, Ina Garten’s autumnal side dish includes Brussels sprouts, radicchio and kale, which are all finely shredded and tossed in a lemon vinaigrette with dried cranberries and Parmesan cheese.

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6 Lightened-Up Sweets for a Healthier Halloween

by in Healthy Recipes, October 27, 2016

Halloween is not the night to restrict your diet, but that doesn’t mean your evening of revelry should be quashed by a candy coma. If you’re hosting a party this year, skip store-bought sweets and opt for homemade goodies instead. Don’t hesitate to whip up everyone’s favorites — cookies, caramels, even a cocktail or two. But a few mindful alterations (and moderation) can save you from a sugar hangover the next morning. Here are five festive recipes that are sure to hit the spot without going overboard.

Spider Bites
Sandra Lee’s homemade chocolate-peanut butter clusters are incredibly quick and convenient — and at a glance, they’ll raise the hair on the back of your neck. The recipe calls for creamy peanut butter; for an extra fiber boost, use all-natural PB.

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5 Turkey Chilis That Put Beef Out to Pasture

by in Healthy Recipes, October 20, 2016

Whether you spend the next few weekends hitting your local campground to take in the fall foliage or sitting on the couch curled up under a blanket, one thing is for sure: You’re going to want a bowl of warm chili to wrap your hands around. Loaded with fragrant spices, tender beans and protein, chili is exactly the type of dish to have on hand in your freezer throughout the season.

But let’s not forget that part of what makes chili so comforting is the toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, maybe even some diced avocado. By the time you finish adorning your bowl with all the desired fixings, you could be looking at half a day’s worth of calories — or worse. That’s where lean ground turkey comes in. If your favorite chili involves beef, here are a few things to consider: A 4-ounce serving contains roughly 127 calories with 27 grams of protein, compared to 199 calories and 23 grams of protein found in 90/10 lean ground beef. Need some inspiration to switch up your chili routine? These are a few of our favorite turkey-based recipes from the chefs at Food Network.

Indian Summer Turkey Chili
If you plan on doing any tailgating this fall, Rachael Ray’s big-batch turkey chili is just the thing you’ll want to spoon out of your thermos. Large bell peppers brighten up the mixture with their mild sweetness. Stir in a bit of your favorite barbecue sauce for a touch of sweet heat.

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6 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin in Healthy Fall Meals

by in Healthy Recipes, October 6, 2016

If you’re daunted by the idea of cooking with fresh pumpkin, we can’t blame you. Splitting, gutting and skinning a whole gourd with nothing more than a carving knife and a large spoon to scoop out the seeds is a time-consuming process — and completely unnecessary when you have pure pumpkin puree on hand. Luckily, one-half cup of unsweetened canned pumpkin contains roughly 50 calories per serving, which means it’s a great way to add creaminess to your favorite foods for very little additional fat or sugar. Better yet, it’s a quick and convenient method for imbuing each bite of pie, quick bread or pasta sauce with comforting fall flavor. Here are five easy ways to work rich pumpkin puree into your favorite dishes, from classic pumpkin pie to cheesy pumpkin biscuits.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
This creamy cheesecake is packed with pumpkin pie flavor but with a fraction of the fat as the original; it’s made with reduced-fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt.

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All the Ways to Eat Cauliflower

by in Healthy Recipes, September 29, 2016

Many people claim they don’t enjoy the taste of cauliflower — that it’s too bland or too crumbly, especially when served raw. If you’ve only encountered the firm white bundles as a component on a crudite platter, we can’t argue with you there. Maybe you’ve tried it boiled; sadly, this does nothing to enhance the flavor either. But roasted, pureed or worked through a ricer? The cream-white florets take on a whole new identity. Thanks to their mild taste, they’re an excellent canvas for all varieties of sauces and spices. Now that cauliflower is abundant at the farmers market, there’s even more incentive to use this nutritional powerhouse as the base for hearty fall meals. Here are a few of our healthiest ideas.

Roast It
Even meat eaters will flock to the table for a taste of these roasted cauliflower bundles. The Dijon mustard rub concentrates in flavor as it roasts, resulting in a heady dose of umami. In order to really lock in the flavor, prep and brush your cauliflower ahead of time, then let it sit at room temperature until you’re ready to cook.

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6 Lighter Ways to Cook and Bake with Apples

by in Healthy Recipes, September 22, 2016

Ready your wicker baskets: It’s apple-picking season. If you’re planning a trip to your local orchard, you’re probably already dreaming about the wonderfully sweet, tart and spicy dishes you can make once you get your apples home. Maybe they’re destined for a rustic galette — or maybe you’ll bake them whole with a medley of warming spices. Of course, the butter and brown sugar used in many apple dishes are just as craveable as the fruit itself. But even if you’re using the new season as an opportunity to get back into good eating habits, you don’t have to miss out on this fun autumn pastime. With a few simple modifications, you can make your favorite apple dishes a healthy staple rather than a once-in-a-while indulgence. From firm and tart Granny Smiths to sweet and tender McIntoshes, here are six lighter ways to use your freshly picked apples this fall.

Baked Apples with Oatmeal and Yogurt
When it comes to baking apples whole, Bobby Flay opts for sweet Galas, which he dresses up with fragrant spices and light brown sugar. Top each one with high-fiber oatmeal, low-fat Greek yogurt and a drizzle of apple cider reduction.

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How to Transform Summer Tomatoes into Comforting Fall Soups

by in Healthy Recipes, September 15, 2016

The humidity has finally lifted and there’s a brisk chill in the air, but that’s not the only good news we’re celebrating: Late-summer produce like tomatoes, zucchini and corn is still abundant at the farmers markets. From a culinary standpoint, this is what makes September so precious. For the next few weeks, we’ll be able to meld the light and delicate flavors of summer with the comforting style of autumnal cooking, which we generally see reserved for hearty root vegetables. And what better application for all of our perfectly ripened tomatoes than warm, freshly blended tomato soup? Whether you’re serving it as a smooth transition between the hors d’oeuvres and the entree at an elegant dinner party or spooning it from a thermos after your first hike of the season, tomato soup is the most-logical solution to our current tomato surplus. So put gazpacho on the back burner (not literally), and reacquaint yourself with fall cooking via these versatile tomato soup recipes.

The Classic
Now that it’s finally cool enough to turn on your oven, get back into the rhythm of roasting with Melissa d’Arabian’s Rich Roasted Tomato Soup. The recipe calls for little more than Roma tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and the rustic tastes of sauteed garlic and herbes de Provence are an excellent match for the tangy, caramelized Romas.

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