(Family Features) The holiday season evokes thoughts of delicious, hearty and festive meals. Whether planning a family feast or flitting among gatherings, you may find it harder than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep your weight management goals on track. However, with the right approach, you can still enjoy many of your holiday favorites and serve foods your guests will appreciate as much as your waistline does. The key is managing your carbohydrate and sugar intake.
If you’re looking to lose or maintain weight, you know the importance of relying on a lifestyle with proven results – without feeling deprived. A low carb approach is backed by more than 80 scientific studies and still allows you to enjoy a wide variety of delicious foods. When you control your carbohydrate intake, you start burning stored fat as your fuel source instead of carbohydrates. A long-term, well-balanced, low carb eating plan such as Atkins encourages reduced levels of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, while optimizing levels of protein, high fiber carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
This wide range of foods makes it easy to find delicious ways to celebrate the holidays without feeling restricted. Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., offers several tips to help stay on track this season:
- Leading up to the big meal or holiday party, snack on proteins that contain healthy fats such as nuts or grab some cubes of cheese.
- When crafting a holiday menu, identify a savory main dish that offers a healthy serving of protein, such as this Low Carb Cranberry-Ginger Pork Roast. Finish off the meal with a Low Carb Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake, and you and your taste buds will be very satisfied.
- When alcoholic beverages are being served, confine yourself to a glass (or two at most) of wine or one glass of spirits. Just be sure to have your spirits with club soda and a slice of lemon or lime, or a mixer made without sugar. And make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Low Carb Cranberry-Ginger Pork Roast
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
- Cooking oil
- 2 pounds pork chops or roast (center rib, bone-in)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
- 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/8 cup sugar-free maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 cup chicken broth, bouillon or consomme
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
- 1/8 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter stick (optional)
- Prepare skillet with small amount of oil over medium-high heat. Season chops or roast with salt and pepper then place into skillet and brown each side for about 1 minute, 4 minutes total, to help seal in moisture and give it color. Set aside on plate to cool slightly.
- Finely dice chipotle pepper and chop cranberries, if desired.
- In small bowl, combine syrup, diced chipotle, ginger, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Rub mixture onto roast then place it into slow cooker. Add cranberries and pour chicken broth down side of pan (avoiding rinsing rub from roast).
- Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.
- Remove roast and set on serving platter covered with tent of aluminum foil; reserving liquid.
- Keep slow cooker on low and add water and guar gum or xanthan gum to reserved mixture, whisking to combine. Continue to cook on low heat until sauce thickens slightly. Once thick, enrich sauce, if desired, with butter, adding additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve sauce over pork roast.
Tip: While it is not necessary to chop cranberries (they will break down while cooking), chopping them makes sauce smoother.
Low Carb Browned Pumpkin with Maple and Sage
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter stick
- 1/2 pound pumpkin
- 1/8 cup chopped shallots
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup bouillon vegetable broth
- 1/16 cup sugar-free maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon sage, ground
- In medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat butter. Cube pumpkin into 3/4-inch chunks.
- Add pumpkin and shallots to pan; season with salt and pepper. Saute until pumpkin is lightly browned and shallots are translucent, approximately 5-6 minutes.
- Turn heat to low, add vegetable broth and simmer, covered, 8-10 minutes until pumpkin is tender.
- Add maple syrup and sage, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.
Tip: Use fresh sage (7-8 leaves), if possible.
Low Carb Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 2/3 cup halved pecan nuts
- 2/3 cup sucralose-based sweetener (sugar substitute), plus 1 tablespoon
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 tablespoon unsalted butter stick
- 1/2 large egg white
- 9 2/3 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 ounces canned pumpkin, without salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/4 large eggs
- To make crust: Heat oven to 350° F.
- In food processor, combine pecans, 1 tablespoon sugar substitute and cinnamon. Process until finely ground. Toss with butter and egg white; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan, rounding up to cover pan seam. Bake until golden and set, 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
- To make filling: Reduce oven heat to 325° F.
- In large bowl, combine cream cheese, 2/3 cup sugar substitute and cream. With electric mixer at medium speed, beat until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, mixing to combine. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined.
- Pour batter over crust. Bake until just set, 45-50 minutes. Turn off oven and let stand 10 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 4 hours or overnight. Slice and serve.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
(Family Features) Holiday gatherings call for an extra touch to make the celebrating special. Since many holiday festivities are centered on food, focus some attention on the refreshments for a simple way to upgrade your next holiday party.
From the presentation to the pairings, it’s easy to make an ordinary spread extraordinary this holiday season. Take this year’s event to the next level with these easy tips that bring the wow-factor to your gathering:
Make it look as pretty as it tastes. Even simple platters of crackers and cheese can feel extra special when presented on a pretty plate. If you’re serving food buffet style, use a colorful tablecloth and stack sturdy boxes of varying sizes underneath to serve as risers that create some visual interest for the spread. Incorporate seasonal decorations such as ornaments or sprigs of holly and poinsettia blooms. For a plated meal, a table-runner adds just the right pop of color and a tasteful centerpiece of candles or evergreen dressed with holiday trinkets elevates an everyday table.
Offer the perfect pairings. When planning your menu, consider the types of beverages you’ll serve along with the appetizers and dishes. When paired properly, food and cocktails complement one another, making the flavors more vibrant and the overall experience more impressive. A good starting place is cheese. Pair alpine-style cheese such as Roth Grand Cru with Riesling; creamy blue with gin; smoky blue with merlot; Havarti with pinot noir; Spanish-style such as Roth GranQueso with scotch; and Gouda with prosecco.
Enhance traditional favorites. Putting a fresh, elegant spin on the basics instantly elevates your menu and the overall experience for your guests. Even a staple like cheese can get some special dressing for the occasion. This recipe combines three rich, flavorful cheeses for a fondue that’s sure to delight guests.
Explore more ideas for exceptional holiday entertaining at rothcheese.com.
Culinary Education Center House Fondue
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 3/4 pound Grand Cru Original, shredded
- 3/4 pound Grand Cru Reserve, shredded
- 1/2 pound Roth Fontina, shredded
- 16 ounces Pinot Grigio or other light- to medium-bodied white wine
- 1 loaf crusty artisan bread
- fresh apples, grapes and pears
- black and white pepper (optional)
- nutmeg (optional)
- Combine cheeses and wine in ceramic fondue pot and stir to combine. Allow mixture to soak 15-30 minutes.
- Heat mixture over low heat, approximately 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Do not allow mixture to boil. When cheese has melted completely, remove from heat and transfer to tabletop burner.
- Serve fondue with chunks of bread and fruit. If desired, provide pepper and/or nutmeg guests can sprinkle onto a plate and use for dipping bread and cheese. Pair with chilled dry Riesling and a shot of authentic Swiss kirschwasser.
Source: Roth Cheese
Impress guests with elegant appetizers
(Family Features) Bringing an element of elegance to your holiday celebration is easy when you start with party-pleasing ingredients, and great tasting food often starts with dairy. Foods like milk, cheese and yogurt not only enhance the flavor and texture of dishes everyone loves, but they also add high-quality nutrients to support the health and wellbeing of your guests.
Each of these recipes features a different variety of cheese as the essential ingredient for success. These decadent, elegant apps, which can be prepared in minutes, are sure to be party favorites. Find more ideas for serving up an elegant, yet simple menu your guests will love at MilkMeansMore.org.
Holiday Baked Brie
Recipe created by Foxes Love Lemons on behalf of United Dairy Industry of Michigan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 14 minutes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- 1 Brie round (8 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
- crackers or toasted bread
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- In large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook 8-10 minutes, or until deep golden brown, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper; remove from heat.
- Place Brie on parchment paper-lined rimmed baking pan; drizzle with honey. Transfer to oven and bake 5-7 minutes, or until inside of cheese is softened, but outside remains intact.
- Transfer Brie to serving platter; top with pomegranate arils, pistachios and mushrooms. Serve immediately with crackers or bread.
Butternut Squash Queso Dip
Recipe created by Rachel Cooks on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 12 ounces butternut squash puree, frozen
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 finely diced red onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 can (10 ounces) petite diced tomatoes and green chiles
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- Place unwrapped squash in microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave 5 minutes at 50 percent power, or until thawed.
- In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 4-5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Add squash, tomatoes, cumin and chili powder, and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to low and add cheese. Stir until melted and serve immediately.
Parmesan Crisps with Basil and Sun-Dried Tomato
Recipe created by Art From My Table on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 6 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 8 basil leaves
- 8 sun-dried tomatoes, jarred
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- On baking sheet, make eight flat circles out of 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese each. Bake cheese 5 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden.
- Using metal spatula, remove crisps from pan immediately, placing on rack or plate to cool.
- Place vinegar and sugar in small saucepan and boil until mixture is reduced to about 1/4 cup and is thickened.
- Top each crisp with 1 fresh basil leaf and 1 sun-dried tomato. Drizzle balsamic reduction over top.
Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Recipe created by The Lemon Bowl on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 24 large mushrooms, stemmed and reserved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
- 2 cups crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1 pinch chili flakes
- 1 pinch minced scallions
- Heat oven to 350° F and place mushroom caps in single layer on baking sheet lined with foil.
- Mince reserved mushroom stems and heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and mushroom stems to pan along with salt and pepper. Saute 2-3 minutes, or until mushrooms are softened. Add spinach and artichoke hearts to pan and cook until heated through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and place mixture in large mixing bowl. Stir in feta cheese and onion. Adjust seasoning, to taste.
- Using small cookie scoop, add 2 tablespoons filling to each mushroom cap. Bake mushrooms 20-25 minutes, or until mushroom caps are softened. Sprinkle with chili flakes and minced scallions to serve.
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)
- PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
- COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
- BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
- BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake.
- Spread cream cheese mixture over cake.
- Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Total Fat: 16g
Makes 10 servings
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Cooking Tips - Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.