The holidays tend to be a time for consuming delicious food but just because the holidays are over, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy tasty holiday-style recipes! We are all blessed with scrumptious leftovers that can be turned into different dishes.
In my case, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Venezuelan staple of hallacas. I found that not only are they great in taste, but are also quite healthy and can be made organic as many foods nowadays can. Here are some ideas for healthy meals out of our typical Holiday foods.
If you’re interested in making Hallacas which are a combination of meat and vegetables surrounded by tender dough, you will need at least four hours and preferably a few others to help. This is an elaborate dish and it is traditional for big groups of people to get together and have “Hallaca making parties” in which a long table is set and everyone has a different job, whether it be kneading the dough, putting the filling inside, or the final step which is wrapping it all in a plantain leaf. Food.com has a great and easy to follow recipe, although each family has their own variation (and each family thinks theirs is the absolute best!). Also, Hallacas can be easily frozen and stored for quite a long time.
Another dish typical of the holiday season is prime rib. This meat is typically lean and is so rich in flavor that all you need to season it with salt and pepper. Accompany it with your favorite salad and it makes for a perfect and healthy meal. Another great meat is pork, depending on which cut you purchase, pork is actually the healthiest meat and has the least amount of fat. Both of these are great over the next couple of days on sandwiches. I personally love to cut them into small pieces and put them in my salad without even heating them up to add some protein to my conservative meal the day after feasting!
Roasted chicken is also popular during the holidays and can be made very healthy indeed. Avoid using butter and try lime instead. Of course, the leftovers of this meal are also great to use on other days for salads or sandwiches.
For healthy and rich salads I follow a few basic principles. Cheese is one of them, my personal favorite is feta which has the least amount of fat, although I also love to use goat cheese. Walnuts and cranberries make great additions to any salad specially if you’re using spinach as a base. Black olives, red onion, and sun-dried tomatoes go great together as well. Romaine lettuce is also a great choice, it has much more nutrients than Iceberg lettuce and a great flavor. For the dressing I refrain from using store bought varieties and simply toss the salad with rice vinegar, olive oil, salt, and a little pepper.
Vegetables are a great side dish to any meal. Brussels sprouts don’t have a great reputation, but they can be made quite delicious! All you need to do is put shredded brussels sprouts in a pan add a little olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and wait 1 or 2 minutes, then add a little water. I usually sprinkle some feta cheese while I’m cooking them so that it melts and mixes in with all of the flavor. Another thing you can do is add a few bacon bits instead of the cheese.
If you have any recipes you came up with during this holiday season, whether they be from leftovers or main entrees share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Ivanha Paz
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (2), Circulos de Fuego: Helen Lopez (2), Briana Jennings