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Stressing out about what to cook for your family meal during the holidays? Want to prepare dishes that will have your guests asking you for the recipe? Worry no more. We have attended local cooking schools, phoned in favors with distant relatives and reached out to the most experienced cooks we know in order to gather delicious AND simple recipes that are guaranteed to bring you rave reviews. You have heard trainers and nutritionists say it a million times, but trust me, the selections below are finally the proof. It IS possible to cook healthy dishes that have an amazing taste and are quite easy to prepare.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I was a student in a cooking class called 'Everything But the Turkey' at SF Cooking School back in November and discovered this delicious AND healthy recipe for Curried Butternut Squash soup. Of the 16 dishes we cooked in class that day, it won 'Best in Show' by far.  I then cooked it for my family's Thanksgiving dinner and it was a huge hit there as well. It really is incredibly delicious and healthy and a perfect appetizer for both vegetarians and meat lovers alike.  I hope it will become a new favorite for your next holiday meal. Enjoy it!download (2)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste (recommended brand Thai Kitchen)
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs) peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 medium baking potato, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 1 can (about 2 cups) coconut milk, well shaken

[one_half]"We have attended local cooking schools, phoned in favors with distant relatives and reached out to the most experienced cooks we know in order to gather delicious AND simple recipes that are guaranteed to bring you rave reviews." [/one_half]

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add coconut oil and, when hot, add the onion, garlic, and ginger with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent but not browned, 4-5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, a minute more. Stir in the squash and potato with another pinch of salt. Add the stock, increase the heat the medium high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low; add the coconut milk, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth. Heat the soup gently, taste, and season as needed with additional salt and pepper. The soup can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated at this point for up to 3 days. Ladle the hot soup into warm soup bowls, add a pinch of scallions and serve. For total cheat meals, feel free to add a bit of crème fraiche to the bowl as well when serving. Serves 4-6.

Orange Cranberry Sauce

Also from the SF Cooking School, this is a fun, unique twist on cranberry sauce or relish. It is super easy and a bright, colorful dish due to the tweak of keeping the rind on the oranges. The best part of preparing the dish is enjoying the scent of freshly ground coriander seeds. DO NOT use pre-ground coriander seeds for this recipe, or ever again for that matter. Also a great recipe to make ahead and store in mason jars, which can be a great gift for friends and neighbors.

  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 2 oranges, coarsely chopped, seeds removed (do not peel, orange rinds stay on)
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

Grind the coriander seeds yourself using a mortar and pestle (be sure to enjoy the incredible scent of the ground seeds). Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until the cranberries and oranges are coarsely chopped. The relish is ready to serve (and lasts for approximately 2-3 days in fridge), or it can be stored in sealed, sterilized jars and refrigerated (lasts approximately 1 month in sealed jars). Makes about 3 cups.

Aunt Barbara’s Beef Loin

I tend to prefer simple, high quality meat dishes as the main course. This recipe is incredibly easy IMG_7971but so damn delicious.

  • Whole boneless beef loin.  (Figure 8-12oz per person)
  • Crushed garlic cloves (1 clove/8 oz)
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Let meat sit at room temp for about 1 to 1 ½ hour. Mix fresh crushed garlic, olive oil, pepper and salt. Rub mixture all over meat. Pre-heat gas grill until VERY hot.  Place meat on grill and sear, turning gently until all sides are browned. Do not leave it on the grill too long, maybe 10-20 sec per side. You do not want it to begin cooking. Then place in shallow pan and bake at 400. I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to gauge the desired doneness. Let stand about 10-15 min lightly covering with a foil tent. It will cook a little more while standing. Slice and serve.

Brian and Max’s Hawaiian Holiday Bark

[one_half]"Stressing out about what to cook for your family meal during the holidays? Want to prepare dishes that will have your guests asking you for the recipe? Worry no more."[/one_half]

So this combination dessert idea actually comes from 2 of my good friends, Brian and Max. Thanks guys! It is actually two completely separate dishes that when served as simple dessert options, or as party appetizers, will quench the holiday sweet cravings of any guest without sending them away feeling completely bloated and miserable.

Brian’s Dark Chocolate Holiday Bark

Brian’s holiday bark relies on your creativity in designing healthy AND delicious bark varieties from an endless list of possible toppings including nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc), sea salt, orange zest, candied ginger, dried cranberries, etc. Or any combination of these!  You can also choose your own percentage of dark chocolate: (over 85% = Unsweetened, 65-85% = Bittersweet, Semi-sweet 35-65%, Milk 10-20%) Keep in mind that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the darker the chocolate and the healthier they will be.

  • Dark chocolate
  • Coconut oil for pan
  • Whatever toppings you choose

Melt dark chocolate slowly using a double boiler or a steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. Usually the higher end chocolates will have less stabilizers and therefore must be handled gently during the melting process.  Once melted, pour onto wax paper or a cooking sheet that has been greased with coconut oil. Pour it out super thin, no thicker than 1/4”. Place toppings on top of chocolate while still melted and hot so that it sinks in. Let cool and break apart to serve.

Max’s Grilled Pineapple

As I said, I always prefer simple, and this idea (it really is more of an idea than a recipe since it only has one ingredient) from Max could not be more simple, yet tasty.

  • 1 whole pineapple (skinned and chopped into large chunks)grilled-pineapple-with-honey

Heat your grill to medium heat. Place the chunks on the grill, rotating them as they minimally char on each side. Allow to cool just a bit before serving.

 

DIAKADI’s The 12 Days of Fitmas: Welcoming the holidays and year’s end as a time for relaxation and celebration, The 12 Days of Fitmas will teach people to take the time to enjoy the fun of the season, while reflecting on the year and looking forward to the year ahead. The series tackles the biggest problems that many face: stress, holiday parties, eating well, preparing for the New Year, and more. “The holidays tend to be one of the most challenging times of the year for our clients,” says Billy Polson. “The stress, over-booked schedules, party foods, alcohol and travel plans wreak havoc on their workouts and their bodies. The 12 Days of Fitmas are our effort to help people not only survive the holidays, but thrive throughout them.” Through The 12 Days of Fitmas, DIAKADI will demonstrate the belief that fitness is about far more than dead lifts, burpees and the spin class. Rather, fitness and health encompass all aspects of one’s lifestyle including sleep schedules, stress levels, deep breaths, proper fuel for the body, and enjoying life every day. DIAKADI will use video to demonstrate topics like “Ultimate Destination Workout,” ensuring that whether one is at a beginning or an advanced level, they will learn proper form and technique for the perfect workout regardless of location. The principals discussed in the series will be applicable beyond the holiday season and throughout the New Year.

Originally published at Patch.com.

Day 1: The Most Wonderful Yet Stressful Time of Year: Managing Holiday Stress Day 2: The Holiday Hunger Games: Holiday Party Survival Tips Day 3: The 80/20 Rule: By Damn, Enjoy the Holidays Day 4: Healthy Holiday Recipes that Don’t Suck Day 5: Planes, Trains, and Drive-thrus: Smart Choices for Food on the Go Day 6: Travel Stretches to Make Coach Feel Like First Class Day 7: Grandma Got Run Over by the Holiday Cold: Staying Healthy for the Holidays Day 8: The DIAKADI Destination Workout: Anytime, Anywhere, No Equipment Necessary Day 9: Silent Night: How to Stay Rested Throughout the Holidays Day 10: The Holiday Hustle: Getting Off the Couch and Out of the House for the Big Day Day 11: Start the New Year Off with a Bang Not a Bust: Do What You Love this New Year’s Day 12: When the Clock Strikes Midnight: Successfully Setting and Reaching Your New Year’s Goals

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