Loris Sofia Gregory, Healthy Kitchen Coach, Apple Valley, MN
Valley Natural Foods, 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville, MN 55337
Most of us look forward to traditional comfort foods this special time of year, usually anticipating the pleasurable sights, smells and tastes of our family holidays. What dishes are on your “must serve” holiday list? Does everyone in your family agree or do you stress yourself out trying to satisfy everyone’s favorite food memories? What about potential rising numbers on the bathroom scale during the next few months? Just thinking about holiday cooking and eating does not have to raise your blood pressure. Holiday feasts and treats can include superfoods, offering more nutrition per calorie without straining your waistline or wallet. Here’s a fresh, local and global rainbow of holiday superfoods and spices to consider. These fresh foods offer power-packed energy and strong immunity for happier healthier holidays.
Cranberries: Rather than using these tasty tart red beauties as a sugar-laden compliment to your Thanksgiving turkey, try these alternatives: (1) simmer whole cranberries sweetened with fresh apples, (2) dice cranberries and apples in a food processor or by hand and enjoy solo or with yogurt or oatmeal (3) mix cranberries with guacamole and a drizzle of honey, or (4) blend them with olive or local oil, balsamic vinegar and pinches of sweetener and salt for a super salad dressing. Sandhill Cranberries in Wisconsin deliver fresh, local organic cranberries to VNF through November and December, as long as their supply lasts.
Brussels Sprouts: Like other members of the broccoli and cabbage family, this “love ‘em” (or not) vegetable offers a boost of health-enhancing qualities, including beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and calcium. Cut off the ends, but not so much that they fall apart. Roasting these green gems in salt, pepper, olive or local oil, with a touch of honey and balsamic vinegar (cook until tender but still bright).
Pomegranates: Who cannot use calmer nerves during the holidays? Have you discovered the rich-red juicy delights of pomegranates and their seeds, offering antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties for a healthy nervous system? Try peeling the whole fruit in a bowl of water, as the seeds will drop to the bottom and your hands will remain stain-free. Or pick up a package of super-convenient pomegranate seeds in our produce department, for adding festive color and nutrients to green or fruit salads, oatmeal, breakfast batters, breads and more. Create a new tradition with Roasted Pear and Pomegranate Salad.
Mushrooms are easy to overlook in the nutrient-rich rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Mushrooms contain virtually no fat, sugar or salt and are a valuable source of dietary fiber as well as five B vitamins. Most significant among their minerals is selenium that protects against viruses. Don’t forget to add mushrooms to your Thanksgiving dressing, pasta and rice dishes, pizzas, soups, salads, and stir frys. A diversity of mushrooms is delivered fresh and local from Forest Mushrooms of St. Joseph, Minnesota. Be adventurous and try Spinach and Almond-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms.
Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins and Squashes: Colorful and naturally sweet, these vibrant orange and deep yellow holiday favorites are rich in nutrients, including fiber and the alpha and beta carotenes that convert to immune-boosting, vision-enhancing Vitamin A. Bake whole in the oven till soft, scoop out any seeds and pulp, and whip the warm flesh into creamy delicious with a touch of cayenne, salt, butter and ginger juice (Grate unpeeled fresh ginger, then squeeze it through your hands or strainer.) Perfume your kitchen and be popular with Spiced Butternut Cranberry Squares, courtesy of locavore chef Amy Colter.
Consider these health-enhancing spices for your holiday cooking and baking, delivered fresh, local and global from Frontier Natural Foods Products in Norway, Iowa. Buy a pinch or a pound of these money-saving bulk spices to enjoy optimum aroma and freshness.
Cinnamon: One teaspoon daily can lower blood sugar levels, possibly helping to prevent or control diabetes. Sprinkle cinnamon on fall squash soup, fruit chutneys, hot or cold cereals, French toast, pancakes, hot chocolate or other tummy-warming holiday treats. Cloves have one of the highest antioxidant ratings of any spice. Use it in winter fruit salads, mulled wine or cider and spicy curries. Nutmeg is a holiday super spice shown to calm your stomach, improve circulation and concentration, regulate anxiety, promote sleep and relieve joint pain. It might be tempting to overdo on the nutmeg. Caution: large doses can lead to nausea. Enjoy smaller doses in baked goods and eggnog. Sage can boost memory, another boost everyone can use. Savor sage in holiday stuffings, soups and pastas.
Are you ready for more inspiring coaching, plenty of tasty samples, recipes and support for super healthy happy holidays? I look forward to meeting you or reconnecting at my November classes:
FRESH, LOCAL AND GLOBAL HOLIDAY FLAVORS, Thursday, Nov 8, 6:30-8:30 pm, Seward Co-op Grocery & Deli, 2823 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis 55406. $32 members / $34 non-members (Demonstration/Tasting). Please register 48 hours in advance at Customer Service or call 612-338-2465. Prepayment is required to reserve your spot.
FRESH, LOCAL AND GLOBAL HOLIDAY FLAVORS, Tuesday, Nov 20, 6:30-8:30 pm. Valley Natural Foods, 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville 55337. Register by Friday Noon, November 16 with VNF Customer Service at 952-891-1212 ext. 221 or online. Use coupon code #5130 for $3 off online registration. REGISTER ONLINE HERE.
FRESH, LOCAL AND GLOBAL HOLIDAY FLAVORS, Thursday, Dec 6, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, $15. Mazopiya (Food Market & Deli), 2571 Credit Union Drive, Prior Lake, MN 55372. Register with payment by Friday Noon, November 30 at 952-233-9140.
Discover, explore and taste fresh, local and global holiday food traditions with new healthy twists. Health Coach Loris Sofia Gregory will demo and share ample samples, recipes and serving ideas for festive appetizers, snacks and meal ideas using fresh plant-based, gluten-free ingredients (and local when possible). Learn what traditional holiday foods and spices have “superfood” qualities, offering peak nutrients with minimal calories, expense and hours in the kitchen. Be inspired by special holiday products and local foods for standout entertaining and appreciative family meals. Take home fresh ideas and healthy recipes for eating well throughout the holidays and beyond. Bring your own favorite healthy holiday recipes to share!