At the end of the year, it seems that all of our intentions to eat well go out the window. Due to work, family and social gatherings, we might be tempted to see the entire month of December as a “cheat month,” and hope to get back on track in January.

Enter: New Years Resolutions! Most of us come up with a list of healthier lifestyle choices for the new year, and hang on to that commitment for a few months, or shorter. Well, did you know that you can start your resolutions now? And even continue on in your healthy eating if you’ve already started this year. Let’s make a cozy holiday meal – made mostly from healthy ingredients. You’ll be surprised with how painless it is to swap out a few simple ingredients to keep your body in tip-top shape for the craziness of the holiday season!

Beverage: Mulled Apple Cider

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon Apple Cider
  • 1 large Orange , cut into ½ inch slices
  • Peel from 1 medium Lemon (use a vegetable slicer or paring knife and avoid the pith)
  • 2 teaspoons Whole Cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Allspice Berries
  • 1 inch fresh Ginger Root , thinly sliced
  • 6 Cardamom Pods
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks

Instructions

  1. In a large (6 quart or larger) slow cooker add all the ingredients and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours. Spices can be strained before serving by using a sieve.
  2. Tip: to add the cloves to the rind of the orange slices, make small holes with the sharp end of a bamboo skewer first, then the cloves will insert easily and not break in the process.

Hors d’Oeuvres: Butternut Squash & Wild Rice Stuffing

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6

For the roasted squash:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

For the stuffing:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 5 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/3 cups wild rice
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the cubed squash, olive oil, salt and pepper together and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside.

2. In a large pot or pan with tall sides (that has a lid) melt the butter over a medium-high flame. Add the sliced shallots and sauté until soft and lightly caramelized. Then add the sliced celery and finely grated (or minced) garlic. Sauté until soft and fragrant (about 3 minutes).

3. Add the wild rice, broth and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Allow the liquid to boil for 5 minutes, uncovered.

4. Reduce the flame to a simmer, cover and cook for 40-50 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is fully absorbed.

5. Once the rice is fully cooked, fold in the roasted squash, chopped pecans and parsley. Toss to coat, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking and serve.

Main Course: A Festive Turkey

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove thawed turkey from the bag. After removing the neck and giblets from the body cavities, pat the inside and outside of the bird dry with paper towels. If you choose to stuff your bird, this would be the time to do so.

2. Rub the exterior of the turkey with a blend of your favorite herbs and spices. Place the turkey in an open roasting pan fitted with a rack, breast side up. Cover the bottom of the pan with approximately two cups of water or broth. Place your turkey in the oven.

3. There’s no need to turn the bird while roasting, as it will brown to a rich, golden color. A foil tent can be placed loosely over the turkey during the last hour of roasting to prevent over-browning. When the turkey reaches the desired internal temperature (minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit), remove from the oven.

Dessert: Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups almond flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon**
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger**
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp.molasses
  • 1 egg or 1 flax egg (mix together 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp. water, let set for 10 minutes)

Topping Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. coconut butter
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375℉. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all of the cookie ingredients in a bowl and mix until just combined.
  3. With a cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a spatula or your fingers to form into a round cookie.
  4. Place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Take out of oven and let set on baking sheet for 5 minutes.
  6. Melt coconut butter and drizzle over cookies. Tip: for a new jar of coconut butter, heat the entire jar in 30 second increments (or in a hot water bath on the stove) until able to stir. Stir well to combine all of the contents in the jar. This is important as oil separation may have occurred so you want to be sure that it’s mixed well – just like natural nut butters Top with sprinkles if desired. Remove cookies from pan and place on wire rack to cool and allow for coconut butter to harden. Store cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Sources:

https://boulderlocavore.com/slow-cooker-mulled-apple-cider/

https://www.brit.co/gluten-free-butternut-squash-and-wild-rice-stuffing/

https://www.brit.co/how-to-cook-a-thanksgiving-turkey/

https://therealfoodrds.com/grain-free-soft-ginger-molasses-cookies/

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