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These Festive Dishes will Dazzle Your Holiday Guests

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During the holiday season itâ??s traditional to indulge in too much buttery shortbread cookies and fatty ham and turkey. So this month I have put together a combination of recipes that load our bodies with fibre, vitamins, nutrients, and healthy fats to reverse the trend and boost health.

During the holiday season it’s traditional to indulge in too much buttery shortbread cookies and fatty ham and turkey. So this month I have put together a combination of recipes that load our bodies with fibre, vitamins, nutrients, and healthy fats to reverse the trend and boost health.
These recipes are ideal served together as a vegetarian Christmas or as side dishes to your traditional holiday roast.

Start with the Spicy Honey Roasted Pecans for protein, minerals such as zinc, and polyunsaturated fats that are heart healthy. Feel free to adjust the spice mix, with less chili, or to use less honey when glazing and roasting the nuts. Once you’ve made a batch, you’ll have enough spice mix left over to make lots more. They’re perfect to take to parties or present as a gift, and they add protein crunch to other recipes such as salads, pilafs, and even stuffing. You’ll see I use the honey pecans again in the Colourful Green Bean Salad.

An exotic item to use in the festive season is the pomegranate, which grows in warm climates and is native to North Africa and Western Asia. An Israeli study in 2000 indicated that drinking pomegranate juice (3 tablespoons daily) helps prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, thus potentially reducing the plaque that clogs arteries. Use pomegranate seeds for salads and festive baking and try drinking the juice.

Another seasonal favourite, high in flavonoids and vitamin C, is the cranberry. It’s so versatile in winter cooking, for relishes, salads, rice dishes, and for baking and desserts. It also helps keep the urinary tract healthy and its flavonoids help prevent diseases such as heart disease and cancer. I highly recommend preparing fresh cranberry sauce for optimum flavour and health benefits.

The Glazed Onions Stuffed with Dried Fruit are a new idea for the festive table. I’ve experimented with stuffed peppers, zucchini, and squash over the years, all with amazing results. This recipe in particular is great because brown sugar adds to the onions’ natural sweetness, as highlighted by balsamic vinegar. The fruit and pine nuts add lovely colour and crunch in this easy-to-prepare dish that’s ideal for potlucks–simply take along the pan and serve, still warm from the oven. Onions, as part of the Allium family, have been shown to prevent cancer and help prevent heart disease.

One thing that’s always a challenge at this time of year is getting enough fibre. Whole grains provide plenty of fibre to help prevent constipation but also to help the body de-toxify. As the liver breaks down toxins and alcohol, fibre is required in the gastro-intestinal tract to bind the toxins and excrete them from our bodies. I try to make stuffings, pilafs, or salads that feature whole grains. If well balanced with nuts, dried fruits, and vegetables, most grain dishes can be used as a warming main menu item for vegetarian guests. The Festive Pomegranate, Barley, and Wild Rice Salad recipe is so easy to prepare. It’s also a real showstopper when it comes to presentation and taste, perfect for your holiday table.

Enjoy all the blessings of the season.

Yours in health,
Sally

Sally Errey, RNCP, acclaimed author and speaker on the topic of optimum health through nutrition and lifestyle, offers more recipes in Staying Alive! Cookbook for Cancer Free Living (Belissimo Books, 2004).

Spicy Honey Roasted Pecans

Colourful Green Bean Salad

Festive Pomegranate, Barley, and Wild Rice Salad

Cranberry Relish with Orange and Honey

Glazed Onions Stuffed with Dried Fruit

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