Healthy Recipes 4 Holidays

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Valentine’s Day Romantic Recipes
What can you do to make a special Valentine’s Day Dinner for your sweetie? Make it hot, make it healthy, and make it easy with these romantic recipe ideas.
SPICE UP YOUR ROMANCE
First, make it hot! Studies show that spicy foods can raise your heart rate, cause flushing, and generally mimic some of the effects of sexual stimulation. For centuries, chiles and other heat-inducing ingredients have been added to love potions and other sensual aids to increase desire.
APHRODISIAC APPEAL
What’s a better aphrodisiac than showing someone that you love them enough to prepare deliciously healthy foods? Pomegranates, those exotic fruits containing a multitude of sensual, fleshy seeds inside a thick rind, not only offer the luscious crimson color but also come packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals to keep you in top lovin’ form.
QUICK-COOKING IS KEY
Brown rice offers all the benefits of a whole grain, and the parboiled “quick cooking” kinds make preparing it quick and easy as all of these strategies will come to naught if you’re spending all evening in the kitchen making supper instead of spooning morsels into each other’s mouths. And, come to think of it, facing a train-wrecked kitchen after dinner can be a surefire mood killer as well.
SERVE ROMANTIC RECIPES THAT ARE HOT AND HEALTHY
Try this hot and spicy romantic recipe on your honey for Valentine’s Day. It’s sweetly spicy, inherently healthy, and couldn’t be easier to prepare or clean up. Happy lovin’!
Parma ham-wrapped chicken with spicy pomegranate dip
Ingredients
For the chicken
2 cooked chicken fillets
2 slices parma ham
For the spicy pomegranate dip
½ pomegranate, seeds only
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch dried chilli flakes
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
fresh coriander, to garnish
Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. For the chicken, wrap the chicken fillets in the parma ham and place onto a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for five minutes, or until hot all the way through.
3. To make the pomegranate dip, place the pomegranate seeds, sugar, vinegar, chilli flakes and oil into a small saucepan and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining dip ingredients and pour into a small dipping bowl.
4. To serve, place the chicken fillets onto a serving plate with the dipping sauce alongside and garnish with coriander.
Spicy pomegranate baked pears
Makes a great dessert. French sure know a thing or two about romance and the art of cooking!
Serves 4
1 cup (250 ml) pomegranate juice
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
4 firm Bosc or Bartlett pears
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) lemon juice
1 2-in. (5-cm) cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
In a saucepan, combine pomegranate juice and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool. This syrup can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Peel pears, halve lengthwise and core. Arrange pears cut-side down in a ceramic baking dish. In a non-metallic bowl, combine pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves. Pour the mixture over the pears and place in preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes, basting frequently, or until pears are tender.

Thanksgiving Recipes
When fall and winter arrive, many of us crave warm, cozy, comfort foods. This can cause anxiety for those who equate these choices with lots of calories, especially during a holiday season. Rich, saucy foods are indeed typical for the season: creamy mashed potatoes, gravies, cheese sauces and stews. But these foods aren’t the only way to get that comfort food feeling. There are ways to reduce the calories, but not the flavor of these traditional foods, making them health-inducing, not guilt-inducing. Here are a few ideas to get you cooking in a more healthful way for this fall and winter holidays.

Here are some new favorites for my Thanksgiving table

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I’ve been checking with Katy McLaughlin of the Wall Street Journal (you can read it here) and was able to update my Thanksgiving recipes this year. Hopefully my Thanksgiving dinner will be as delicious as hers and also served without the tension that might sour the atmosphere in our house.
Butternut Squash Soup
I made this easy soup this year: Take a butternut squash, cut it in half, and place it flesh-side-down on a parchment-paper lined baking tray. Or you can buy already pealed and cubed butternut squash at Costco like I did. Roast at 400 degrees for about an hour, until it is soft. In a fry pan, cook 4 slices of bacon, chopped, until very crispy. Remove bacon for later use. In the bacon fat, saute a finely chopped onion until soft and browned. Scoop out the butternut squash flesh and put it in a blender; add the onions and bacon fat, and moisten with a bit of chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Place puree in a large saucepan, add about a liter of chicken stock, until a nice, thick consistency is achieved, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with dollop of sour cream, chopped chives and the bacon bits. Yummy!
The Bird
Since we decided against the whole turkey a while ago, I am going to roast some turkey breast which is a lot more manageable. It also means no unwanted leftovers
Cranberry Chutney.
These huge berries are grown on some farm here. This is the first time I made something other than our usual cranberry Belarussian style which means fresh cranberries ground with just a little sugar. Belarussian wild berries are usually smaller in size, juicier and have more acidity in them. They also store well, so don’t have to be cooked. Neither do they need much sugar for preservation. Back to my cranberry chutney, I used Katy’s advise and this recipe (with only half the sugar) here.
Roasted Onions.
These will be great as a topping for my vegetables as well as with mashed potatoes and/ or turkey. I decided in favor of this great recipe shared by Katy McLaughlin here
Sweet Potato Wedges.
I made it up from a version I had the other week at a local restaurant. We loved them. The recipe is very simple: Put sliced sweet potatoes into a large Ziploc bag with olive oil and some seasonings: sea salt, ground pepper, and garlic. Shake to coat and place fries onto baking sheet leaving space between them. Put them in oven for about 10 minutes and then flip them over and place back in for another 10 more minutes. When they are soft on the inside and browned on the outside, sprinkle them with some fresh chives, dill or parsley and let cool for 3-5 minutes. Sometimes, I use my favorite Italian Seasoning instead.
Babushka’s Creamy Mushrooms
My Babushka (Russian for Grandma) used to make these with mashed potatoes. Saute some mushrooms (any, but I prefer Portobello) and onions. Add some cream or canned Cream of Mushrooms soup and some tarragon or thyme at the end. I am going to make these as both (instead of) gravy and as a topping for my vegetables.

Holly,NY
Christmas Recipes
Mom’s Christmas Meat Rolls
I decided to use pork loin chops for my rolls this time and have them filled with mushrooms. You can use fresh or dried mushrooms which you need to soak in boiled water for about 15 minutes. Prepare the filling beforehand: sauté finely chopped mushrooms and onions and let them cool. Dip well-tenderized pork chops in lemon juice, and sprinkle both sides with herb mixture of basil, parsley, and garlic. Prepare the rolls: top well-seasoned chops with the filling and tie them up with a cotton thread. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place filled pork rolls in a skillet, and sear from all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Reduce heat to low, cover the skillet, and cook for about 8- 10 minutes.
Cranberry Chutney.
My cranberry chutney, with only half the sugar of the the recipe I used for Thanksgiving was a success and is here to stay.
Sweet Potato Wedges.
My healthy version of well-seasoned and crunchy sweet potato wedges instead of fries just as the previous dish are back by popular demand and here to stay as a new family tradition.
Savoy Cabbage
If you can find this cabbage you’ll have to try this recipe. It’s so easy to prepare and so tasty too. This is a winter cabbage and we make this so often every winter that it became a Christmas staple as well.
Slice the cabbage and a medium onion into thin 1/4″ strips. Heat the garlic cloves in the oil in a large nonstick pan. When the oil is hot add the cabbage/ onion mix, and salt. Mix often until the cabbage is thoroughly cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. If the cabbage gets too dry while cooking just add a little water to keep it from sticking. Note that the volume will reduce by 60 or 70% when cooked.
Christmas Rum Cake
The tradition is to use about a cup of dark rum, yellow cake mix and vanilla pudding. In another bowl beat 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil oil and rum until frothy. Add cake mix/pudding mixture and beat until well mixed. Spread enough walnuts or pecans to cover the bottom of the pan evenly for about an inch and a half thick and pour batter over pecans. Bake cake at 325 degrees F for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted in the center. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes and remove from pan. Place in serving dish immediately, right side up. (Pecans should be on the bottom.) Drizzle and smooth glaze mixture evenly over the top and sides of the still hot cake.
For glaze I melt European style Plugra unsalted butter in a saucepan. During the last 15 to 20 minutes of baking time, combine 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/8 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar, bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil rapidly until it’s very thick and syrupy stirring very frequently. The syrup must be reduced quite a bit and very thick otherwise it will make the cake mushy. Remove from heat and add1/2 cup rum. While cake is still hot, poke holes all over top of cake with a toothpick and spoon glaze the cake. Allow cake to sit at room temperature for one day then refrigerate.

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