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Healthy & Festive Holiday Meals

The-Chefs-300x169In my family, our tradition each holiday is not only to celebrate the season with family and friends, but also a time where we spend time together as a family where we are preparing our healthy holiday meal. We all cook together and enjoy spending the time together creating a tasty, healthy and festive meal. As you read further, you will notice that preparing this meal is a lot of work, but in the end we value our  way of healthy eating. This Christmas, we made the following: Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin stuffed with kale, apples and mushrooms and served with roasted apples, Roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Brussels Sprouts Slaw, our absolute favorite Brussels sprouts dish! If nothing else, these dishes are great dinner ideas no matter what time of the year! And, if you are looking for gluten free diet this will qualify. I found the pork and butternut squash recipes from this years magazine, “The Best Recipes From bon appétit and gourmet Holiday Entertaining.” I have copied the recipes for you to try. But, I can honestly say, that we deviated from the original a bit and it was just as tasty. For instance, when making the pork dish, we took all of the filling ingredients and mixed them in the food processor with all of the other ingredients and then stuffed the pork. And for the butternut squash dish, we peeled the outer covering before baking as originally called for in the recipe.
My hope is that you too could prepare this healthy and festive meal for New Years Eve. I love finding new recipes, so I hope that you do as well.


And here is a picture of our friends that joined in our Christmas Eve celebration.


May you and your family have a happy and healthy 2014!



Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples
Serves 8

stuffed-pork-300x169Stuff, roll, and wrap the butterflied pork loin one day ahead. Then, two hours before the party, roast the pork on a bed of apples, which serves as a natural rack and adds sweetness to the cider jus. Don’t sweat the technique; You can ask your butcher to trim and butterfly a pork loin for you.





I love this dish because it is not only tasty, but is filled with healthy ingredients such as kale, apples and mushrooms. This is a great way to get added greens into your diet, one of the foods most commonly missing in our modern diet. Learning to incorporate dark, leafy green vegetables into your diet is essential to establishing a healthy body and immune system. In fact, some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming dark leafy greens are: blood purification, cancer prevention, improved circulation, strengthened immune system, promotion of healthy intestinal flora, promotion of subtle, light and flexible energy, improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function, cleared congestion, especially in lungs by reducing mucus.


1 Cup dried whole porcini mushrooms or(shiitake)
¾ Cup dried apples
2 bunches kale, bottoms trimmed
2 teaspoons salt plus more
¼ stick unsalted butter/ghee
1 Cup minced onion
1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 ½ Teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ Teaspoons dried rosemary
2 Tablespoons brandy or Calvados
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1-2 1/2 -3 Pounds Pork Loin
1 Teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
3 Ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
5 sprigs rosemary
4 medium apples(Granny Smith or Fuji) quartered, or 8 small apples, halved
3 Tablespoon unsalted butter/ghee, divided
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Cup dry hard cider
½ cup low-salt chicken stock
To Make the Filling:
Place the dried mushrooms and dried apples in separate small bowls. Add 1 cup boiling water to each bowl. Let mushrooms and apples soak until very soft, about 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid (about ¾ cup). Cover and chill liquid. Drain apples, discarding soaking liquid. Finely chop mushrooms and apples, combine in a small bowl, and set mushroom and apple mixture aside.
Meanwhile, blanch kale in boiling salted water just until wilted, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer kale to a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate until cool. Remove any large, tough ribs.
Melt butter/ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cook for 1 minute. Add brandy and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool completely. Add ground pork and stir to combine well.

To Make the Pork:
To butterfly, put pork loin on a work surface with one end facing you. Holding a long, thin sharp knife parallel to work surface and beginning along one long side, cut ½” above underside of roast. Continue slicing inward, pulling back the meat with your free hand and unrolling the roast like a carpet, until the entire loin is flat. Cover with a sheet pf plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound to an even thickness.
Uncover pork. Season with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Place kale leaves on top of loin in an even layer overlapping as needed and leaving a 1” border. Spread filling on top of kale. Roll pork into a tight cylinder. Wrap one layer of prosciutto around roast. Tie roast securely with kitchen twine in 1” intervals. Tuck rosemary sprigs under twine, spacing apart.

Do Ahead:

Pork roast can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before continuing.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place apples in oil in a large skillet. Brown pork on all sides, about 5 minutes total, then set on top of apples in pan. Add cider and ½ cup water to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Pour mixture into roasting pan. Roast pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loin registers 140 degrees (it will be cooked medium but still slightly pink), about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Let roast rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Put roast on a platter. Reserve apples from roasting pan; spoon off fat from juices in pan. Place pan on top of stove stock. Pour in reserved mushroom liquid, leaving any sediment behind, and cook scraping bottom of pan to release any browned bits, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce; slice pork. Serve sauce and apples alongside sliced pork.
Roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Serves 8-10

IMAG1460-300x169Adding winter squashes to your diet is not only tasty, but  fills another need that is not well known. Did you know that adding sweet vegetables into your diet can help with sugar cravings? Almost everyone craves sweet; rather than depending on processed sugar to satisfy your cravings, add naturally sweet foods to your daily diet to satisfy your sweet tooth.
2 Medium acorn or butternut squash or small sugar pumpkins (about 3 lb total)
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel squash, scrape off seeds and strings with a large spoon and discard and Cut squash into 1 ½”-thick wedges. Coat wedges with 3 Tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay wedges on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, carefully turning halfway through, until golden brown on both sides, about 30 minutes.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and cook, swirling pan often, until seeds are puffed and brown but still have a bit of green, 4-5 minutes. Transfer seeds to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt.
Do Ahead:
Squash and toasted pumpkin seeds can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand separately at room temperature. Re-warm squash before serving.
Transfer squash to a large platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle squash with mint leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Brussels Sprouts Slaw


The Cabbage family is a fantastic vegetable to institute into your diet. It not only qualifies as a great choice for your greens, adding to a healthy body and immune system, but has the qualities of a sweet vegetable which aids in removing sugar cravings.

1 cup pecans, toasted
2-3 pieces thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 green onions, cut on the bias (optional)
Preheat oven to 325° F. Place pecans on a small rimmed baking sheet. Bake nuts until toasted—about 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels, and save the extra bacon fat for future use.
Whisk mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice in a small bowl; whisk in oil. Season with pepper.
Using processor fitted with 1/8- to- ¼ -inch slicing disk, slice Brussels sprouts. Transfer to large bowl.
Preheat large skillet over medium heat, and add in 1-2 tablespoons of the leftover bacon fat. Add in Brussels sprouts and sauté until softened and slightly brown.
Pour the mustard/vinegar/lemon juice/olive oil mixture over the sprouts. Mix in ½ the pecans, bacon and scallions (optional).  Place slaw in a serving bowl and top with remaining pecans

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