The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and connection; for eating, drinking, and being merry. Yet, many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed just by thinking about the holidays. So here are some tips with a healthy spin to end this year and welcome the new one with some vibrant, uplifting energy!
HOSTING A HEALTHY HOLIDAY MADE EASY
The quick answer is…lighten up. When throwing a party, many hosts make the mistake of having too many options which lead to stress, worry, and probably having more than one thing flying out of control. Have you noticed when you go to an upscale cocktail party they only serve a maximum of three amuse-bouches? Yes, simple is the answer.
Personally, I choose to apply my culinary mantra: Keep it fresh and simple. You can’t never go wrong with that. It’s better to make a few simple and delicious recipes than to labor over twenty dishes that will leave you exhausted even before the party gets started.
Skip the meat unless they are cold cuts ready to go.
Avoid large trays with cheese (they can get really messy.) If you still want to serve cheese, choose not more than two on the harder side to avoid spreading and mess that may come with cheeses such as manchego, parmesan, gorgonzola, or blue cheese.
Stay away from fried foods. They are a lot of work and can get pretty messy. Go for options like olives, nuts, spiced pumpkin seeds, babaganoush, or vegetable/cold cuts antipasto. Even empanadas can be prepared ahead of time and frozen.
Think of items that everyone will enjoy; including the little ones.
Read Related: Ham & Cheese Empanadas
QUICK TIPS PART 2: GET ORGANIZED or ASK & YOU SHALL RECEIVE
People love getting involved; feeling a part of the details of the celebration and helping put the party together.
But, before your guests ask what they should bring (or you ask them) have a list of suggestions of dishes you might need. Who needs multiple raw vegetable trays with dip and hummus platters?
If you know that any of your guests loves to bake, put him/her in charge of dessert.
Same with drinks but, again, make sure to communicate your needs so you don’t end up with 20 bottles of Chardonnay. Yet, if that’s the case, you can always make a quick white wine sangría.
TAKING CARE OF THOSE WITH DIETARY NEEDS:
There is nothing worse (when invited to a party) that to find out that you can’t eat anything and have to explain to everybody why you are not eating.
So plan ahead of time, have some gluten-free options available, as well as a couple of vegetarian dishes and dairy free as well. In my case, because I am usually the one with more specific dietary needs, I am the one bringing those dishes.
One more thing, when planning your party think about dishes that can be served at room temperature. Easy does it; no muss, no fuss!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH BITES WITH CHIPOTLE-MAPLE SYRUP GLAZE
4 C butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1½ inch cubes
1 T extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
Fresh rosemary leaves or sage, (optional)
1/3 C high quality maple syrup or raw honey
1 T chipotle powder
½ T ancho chili powder
¼ T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 T Dijon mustard with fresh lime zest or ginger powder
sea salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- In a large bowl, toss squash with olive oil, rosemary or sage (if using), and salt.
- Arrange in an even layer on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine maple syrup or honey, chipotle and chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, mustard and sea salt to taste. Mix well to combine.
- Carefully remove squash from oven and brush glaze evenly on top.
- Return to oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until squash is cooked and tender.
- Stick a decorative toothpick into each square and serve warm with some of the glaze on the side (optional).