Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and my love for food is making my excitement almost impossible to contain. This time of year can be a struggle for most of us. Food, family, festivities are all making healthy living that much harder to balance. Thankfully, I am not a sucker for the sweet treats handed out on Halloween. But give me a few weeks and my sweet tooth will be kicking in around all of the pies and goodies offered over the holidays. The secret to a successful and healthy holiday season is not only balance and self control, but preparation. We all struggle with temptations during the holidays when we are attending family gatherings and events. Turkey and pie, breads and side dishes make “dieting” quite overwhelming. Not to mention, holiday parties and cocktails. But if you can plan ahead with healthy recipes, it can make the holiday struggle a but easier to digest. Literally.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries with Barley
•1 pound Brussels sprouts, tips cut off, discolored leaves removed and sliced in half (smaller sprouts are better than large sprouts)
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•⅔ cup fresh cranberries (or ⅓ cup dried cranberries)
•⅓ cup crumbled Gorgonzola or goat cheese
•⅓ cup freshly toasted pecans
•1 ½ cups cooked barley, reheated (see instructions above)
•1 tablespoon maple syrup, or more to taste
•1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
1Preheat your broiler.
2Set a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Let it heat up for two to three minutes. It should be so hot that a few drops of water sizzle and quickly disappear after contact.
3In a medium sized bowl, toss the prepared Brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt. Toss well, so that the sprouts are evenly coated in a thin layer of oil.
4Once the pan is hot, dump the sprouts into the pan and quickly rearrange them so the flat sides are face down. Let them cook for two minutes.
5Toss the fresh cranberries into the pan and transfer the pan to your broiler. The pan will be heavy and hot so use oven mitts and be careful! Let the Brussels broil for about three minutes. Check the sprouts for doneness—their tops should be a little browned and the bottoms caramelized. How long you should leave them in there depends on your preferences and your oven. The cranberries should have started popping by now; set the hot pan on your stovetop for a couple of minutes while you reheat the barley.
6Toss the warm barley, sprouts, cranberries, cheese and pecans in a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Season with salt, divide into smaller bowls, and enjoy!
FLOURLESS NUTELLA PUMPKIN BREAD
1 1/4 cups Nutella spread
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional, if you want a more enhanced pumpkin and Fall flavor)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the interior of an 8.5 inch x 4.5 inch (9 x 5 inch also works) loaf pan with vegetable oil or canola oil spray.
2. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend on high speed until everything is mixed. You may need to use a spatula and scrape the blender a few times to make sure all the Nutella is incorporated into the batter and not stuck to the bottom or sides of your blender. You can also mix all the ingredients in a stand mixer as well.
3. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake about 50 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean and top of the bread bounces back slightly when you touch it. Let bread cool before cutting and serving. Bread will shrink slightly while cooling. Store uneaten cake bread in fridge.