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Fill Holiday Cravings with Fruits and Veggies!

‘Tis the season for caroling, tree-trimming, and of course looking forward to (and even craving) our favorite holiday dishes. Speaking strictly with gastronomy in mind, part of what is special around the holiday season is the food, am I right? It’s a time when certain dishes or foods are celebrated and enjoyed, some perhaps with cultural significance.

And by the way, food cravings are not necessarily a bad thing. Mindfully enjoying our favorite dishes instead of depriving ourselves of them, generally leads people toward moderation and away from emotional eating. For other strategies to promote balance and to help us enjoy the fun and flavors of the holiday season without derailing our healthy eating momentum, look no farther than your produce section!

When we focus on including gorgeous and delectable fruits and vegetables in our appetizers and on our plates, we just naturally end up eating less of those higher calorie-lower nutrient foods.

Fall for Fall Fruits this Holiday

Boost the fiber and nutrition of holiday favorites by adding Fall fruit to dishes such as salads, breads, side dishes or appetizers including pears, pomegranate, persimmon, cranberries, guava, kiwi, kumquat, oranges and tangerines!

Pears are a perfect example of a fall fruit to feature in your holiday menus. The 10 types of pears that the U.S. harvests each year will fill your fruit basket all winter long. Enjoying pears every chance you get definitely helps promote health during the holidays with each medium pear providing more than 20% of the daily recommended amount of fiber (6 grams) and 10% of the daily value for the antioxidant, Vitamin C. Not to mention the other important plant compounds in pears including flavonoids, which may have strong antioxidant and possible anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activity in the body.

Expand your holiday horizons and think about enjoying fall fruit in new, inventive ways! Pair your pears, for example, with gruyere or goat cheese for an elegant appetizer or simply slide them into your holiday salads. And try this recipe for Pear Pistachio Crunch, the epitome of a healthful sweet ending to a meal or holiday party.

Fill Up on the Beautiful Bounty of In-Season Veggies

Rely on Fall veggies to balance any holiday plate! From bright orange to dark green, look for opportunities to feature pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winters squash and green beans,

For example, for a festive color and flavor, microwave mashed sweet potato is added to our Harvest Rolls and pumpkin is added to our waffles!

Sweet potatoes have a nice sweet flavor that tends to increase with storage and cooking. You can pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork if baking whole to give the building steam somewhere to go. They can be baked, boiled, steamed or microwaved.

One cup of uncooked butternut squash cubes contains 5 grams of fiber and around 9% of the recommended daily amount of folic acid, 13% of vitamin B1, B3, and potassium, 15% of magnesium, 17% of vitamin B6, 39% of vitamin C and 150% of vitamin A.

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Cauliflower & Broccoli Au Gratin

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower

3 tablespoons chopped shallots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup vegetable broth (or golden mushroom canned soup)

1 cup whole milk (low fat milk can be substituted)

1 teaspoon horseradish (or to taste)

Black pepper to taste

Salt to taste (optional)

2/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, packed (Swiss cheese or Jarlsberg can be substituted)

Directions:

Cut the cauliflower into small florets (reserve the stems) and microwave on HIGH in microwave-safe covered dish until tender (about 2 minutes).

Start to heat a nonstick frying pan or skillet to medium-low and coat the pan with canola cooking spray. Add the coarsely chopped cauliflower stems, shallots, and garlic and gently sauté until soft (do not brown). Add the vegetable broth and cook until the stock is almost evaporated. Transfer to a food processor or blender along with the milk, and pulse until fairly smooth. Add the horseradish and season with pepper (and salt if desired) to taste.

Coat a 9-inch pie plate with canola cooking spray. Add the cauliflower florets to the dish and pour the milk mixture over the top. Gently toss to blend. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Yield: Makes 6 servings (double recipe if 12 servings are needed and use a 9 x 13-inch baking dish)

Per serving: 107 calories, 7 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 1.6 grams monounsaturated fat, .4 grams polyunsaturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber, 240 mg

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