Hassle-free recipes for a healthy holiday

The holidays are full of delicious temptations, but that doesn’t have to mean leaving your commitment to healthy eating behind. Making smart choices of what you eat and how you cook it can help you enjoy holiday dining and still beat the post-holiday blues.

With these hassle-free recipes and some tips from the healthy cooking experts at Culinary.net, you can give yourself — and your family — the gift of a festive holiday menu that has great taste and good nutrition.

Simple Solutions

Keep your holiday dishes deliciously simple with time-saving appliances such as the George Foreman® Evolve™ Grill. With four different plates for cooking, baking and grilling, it’s a simple way to help you stay on track with your healthy eating plan. (It makes a great gift, too.)

These mouthwatering recipes are easy to make on the Evolve Grill, and are a great way to feed your hungry holiday crowd something warm, healthful and satisfying — without sacrificing great taste.

For more recipes and information on George Foreman Healthy Cooking products, visit www.georgeforemancooking.com.

Almond Pear Bread Pudding

Makes 6 servings

1 large ripe Bartlett pear, peeled, cored and diced

4 cups French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 3/4 cups fat-free half and half

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Powdered sugar (optional)

Fit grill with deep-dish bake pan. Set temperature to 350°F and preheat for 5 minutes.

Place bread cubes in bake pan and cook for 10 minutes to lightly toast. Turn off grill. Remove bake pan from grill and let cool.

Sprinkle pears over bread cubes. In a medium bowl, whisk together half and half, sugar, extract, cinnamon and eggs. Slowly whisk in butter and then pour over the bread and pears in the bake pan. Press bread cubes down lightly to make sure all are coated with liquid and let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to 350°F.

Sprinkle bread and pear mixture with almonds, place bake pan back on grill and bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar, if you like.

Turkey Cranberry Panini

Makes 12 mini panini

24 baguette slices, 1/4 inch thick

5 ounces sliced turkey breast (try using leftover turkey)

3 ounces sliced Havarti

3 tablespoons cranberry sauce

1/2 cup arugula leaves

Olive oil cooking spray, for extra crispiness

Veggie Panini

Makes 12 mini panini

24 baguette slices

3 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/3 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts

12 large or 24 small fresh basil leaves

12 thin slices Roma tomatoes

3 thin red onion slices, quartered

Olive oil cooking spray, for extra crispiness

Tuscan Panini

Makes 12 mini panini

24 baguette slices

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

3 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

4 to 6 asparagus spears, julienned

2 thin red onion slices, quartered

2 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil cooking spray, for extra crispiness

Preheat grill for 5 minutes at 400°F. Spray 1 side of each bread slice with cooking spray. Distribute ingredients evenly among bread slices. Cook 6 panini at a time for about 3 minutes. Remove from grill. They can be kept warm in a 250°F oven while the second batch of panini cooks. Add to platter and serve.

Healthy Cooking Tips

from Culinary.net

Here are three easy ways you can boost the nutrition of your holiday foods and make them taste even better.

Flavor Up. Herbs and spices make ordinary food taste extraordinary — without adding salt, fat or sugar. Some spices may even help boost the antioxidant power of what’s already on your plate.

— Cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any spice. One teaspoon of cinnamon has about the same amount as a full cup of pomegranate juice or a half cup of blueberries. Wake up your holiday mornings by sprinkling a half teaspoon over your ground coffee before brewing, or adding some to your oatmeal or yogurt.

— Thyme has about the same amount of antioxidants as a carrot or a half cup of chopped tomatoes. It also has beneficial compounds called flavonoids, which may help with inflammation. It’s a great addition to chicken, beef or vegetable soups, and can really dress up seafood.

Lower the Fat. You can reduce your fat intake in a variety of delicious ways.

— Low-fat mayonnaise has only 15 calories and 1 gram of fat per tablespoon, compared to 90 calories and 10 grams of fat in full-fat versions. Use it in holiday dips, or flavor it with herbs to jazz up your leftover turkey sandwiches.

— If you’re making pan gravy, skim off the fat from the drippings, either with a spoon or a fat separator.

Switch to Whole Grains. Studies show that eating whole grains can lower the risk of many chronic diseases.

— Add 3/4 cup of uncooked oats for each pound of ground beef or turkey when you make meatballs, burgers or meatloaf.

— Add half a cup of cooked bulgur, wild rice, or barley to your holiday bread stuffing.

— Use brown rice instead of white — it adds great taste as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals.

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Courtesy Family Features

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