The most delicious day of the year typically consists of turkey and a spread of traditional fixings like corn bread stuffing and a cheesy casserole, but why not spice up the holidays with a dish your grandmother probably never thought of? This year, add an unexpected, non-traditional dish created—and approved—by nutritionists, doctors and wellness warriors by whipping up some of LivingHealthy experts’ favorite holiday recipes. From best-selling author Kimberly Snyder to celebrity chef and hailed restaurateur Akasha Richmond, our healthiest muses share their anything-but-average side dishes that will add a kick of nutrition to your family feast.
Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Béchamel
Expert: Kimberly Snyder, CN, nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author of The Beauty Detox Foods, The Beauty Detox Solution and The Beauty Detox Power
Why she loves it: “This truly delicious recipe requires a few steps, but is well worth it. It’s especially popular with my husband, my dad and male friends because of how hearty it is—so ladies, if you are looking for something hearty enough for a man, this is your recipe. But on the other hand, there’s definitely no man needed to love this yourself. I love it, as do many of my female friends and clients.
“You can easily make a batch and freeze individual portions, which you can later thaw and enjoy whenever you want a piece. The butternut squash is a wonderful, creamy base for this beauty-building sauce, which is supportive of your creative chakra.”
- Coconut oil for greasing the baking dish
- 2½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
- 14 ounces gluten-free lasagna noodles
- 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, plus 1½ cups for the squash
- ¾ cup diced yellow onion
- 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
- ½ pound fresh spinach, stems removed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with coconut oil. Spread the squash cubes out on the baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Transfer the squash to a large plate, set it aside to cool and reduce the oven heat to 350°F.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles, reduce the heat to medium and cook the noodles as directed on the package. Once cooked, drain the noodles and lay them out on clean kitchen towels to dry. Note that some types of gluten-free pasta do not need to be cooked. They will cook in the oven right along with the other lasagna ingredients.
Heat 1/3 cup of the vegetable broth in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Next, add the spinach and thyme and cook until the spinach softens, about 2 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Transfer the reserved butternut squash to a blender, add the remaining 1½ cups vegetable broth, the coconut milk, nutritional yeast and lemon juice and blend until smooth. (You may want to blend the ingredients in multiple batches depending on the size of your blender.) Season the Butternut Béchamel with sea salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the lasagna, spoon some of the Butternut Béchamel into the bottom of the baking dish used to cook the squash and spread it out to thinly coat the bottom. Add an even layer of the reserved noodles to the baking dish, spoon some Butternut Béchamel on top and then add an even layer of the reserved spinach mixture.
Keep layering until you run out of noodles, sauce and spinach mixture (you should make about three layers of each ingredient). Be sure to arrange some of the spinach mixture on the very top—it makes for a beautiful presentation.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (don’t let it touch the lasagna directly) and bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it stand uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Serves 6 to 8.
Kale Slaw with Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds
Expert: Akasha Richmond, celebrity chef, restaurateur and owner of AKASHA
For the slaw mix:
- 4 cups shredded Tuscan kale
- 4 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¾ cup toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
Mix the kale, cabbage, carrots, red onion and cranberries in a medium-size bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the slaw mix and toss to combine. Garnish with pumpkin seeds.
Roasted Spiced Peaches
Expert: Larry Kaskel, MD, medical director of Northwestern Wellness Center and author of Dr. Kaskel's Living in Wellness; Make Food Thy Medicine
Why he loves it: “Super delicious, these peaches pair nicely with holiday main courses and have a slightly exotic flair of flavorings. Doctor recommended with no artificial ingredients—just real, natural food!”
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 6 firm-ripe peaches, halved and pitted
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Few drops fresh lemon juice
Heat oven to 350°F. Brush half the butter over the bottom and sides of a round glass dish or ceramic baking dish large enough to hold all the peaches upright. Place peach halves, skin-side up, in the dish.
Mix the spices into the remaining butter with a whisk. Fill the center of each peach with half the spice butter. Brush the tops of the peaches with any remaining melted butter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until peaches are just tender.
Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with pan juices and sprinkled with a few drops of fresh lemon juice.
Variation: Use nectarines instead of peaches.
Warm Butternut Squash Stew With Kale and Quinoa
Expert: Jennifer Yates, master Pilates instructor and founder of Studio Metamorphosis
Why she loves it: “This is one of my favorite comforting holiday recipes! Every year as a vegetarian, I look around the table as everyone around me revels in the turkey, gravy and yummy Thanksgiving side dishes. I find myself wanting to share in the gluttony but without the guilt. This warm, flavorful stew hits the spot to warm my soul and also comforts my mind because I’m eating whole foods and vegetables packed with nutrients (it’s gluten-free, too)! Enjoy the gluttony of eating well!”
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 to 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 32 ounces water
- ½ cup dry quinoa (or 1½ cups cooked quinoa)
- 3 handfuls of torn kale
- Parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and pepper to taste, stirring occasionally until the onion becomes translucent. Add the butternut squash along with a few pinches of salt to taste. Continue to stir.
Let the butternut squash cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, curry powder, paprika and chili flakes. Stir together and add the white wine vinegar to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, water and quinoa.
Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. The butternut squash should be fork-tender and the quinoa translucent and cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Five minutes before serving, add the handfuls of torn kale. Stir into the stew and allow to wilt. Once you are ready to serve, top with chopped parsley. Enjoy!
Serves 8 to 10.
Carrot and Beet Slaw
Expert: Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, MD, obstetrics and gynecology, Ayurveda, integrative and holistic medicine
Why she loves it: “A great counterpart to all the heavy and rich holiday fare, it’s simple, fresh, bright and crunchy, and it goes great with holiday meals and leftovers, too!”
- Equal parts raw carrots and raw beets
- Olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
Shred carrots and beets and place equal parts of both in a large bowl. Mix in both olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chestnut Cauliflower Stuffing
Expert: Ramona Braganza, celebrity trainer and global fitness expert
Why she loves it: “A great alternative to a traditional bread stuffing, this delicious dish is low in fat and calories!”
- 1½ cups chestnuts, cross cut in center
- ¼ cup onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, stems removed and finely chopped
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add chestnuts; cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain; let cool slightly.
Add the onions, garlic and celery to the pan on medium-low heat, and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Turn heat up to medium-high.
Add the cauliflower and cook for about 8 minutes. You want it to brown and caramelize a bit, so don’t stir too often.
Add the white wine and cook on medium heat until no liquid remains in the bottom of the pan.
Add the chestnuts and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste.