The holiday season for many of us is filled with cooking and baking. I have friends who spend many hours in a state of bliss in the kitchen. They talk about cooking as “therapeutic” and “relaxing”. They listen to music and sip wine and there is no other place in the world they would rather be.
And then there’s me. Committed to healthy food but not excited about cooking it. Gets in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. Requires exacting recipes and a lot of handholding along the way. Would hire a personal chef in a heartbeat if the budget allowed. And incredibly grateful to two women who have made cooking healthy foods a reality for me.
These two women are my go-to resources for all things culinary – whether I am preparing dinner for the family or cooking for a large crowd during the holidays. So I thought I would share with you some of their recipes that I am making this holiday season.
Julie Negrin is a nutritionist, health educator and culinary instructor extraordinaire. I have made almost every recipe in her Easy meals to Cook with Kids cookbook and not a single one has disappointed me. Her newsletter is a staple in my inbox.
Cynthia Lair of Cookus Interruptus is a wonderful chef, author, instructor and comedian. She was my very first cooking instructor at Bastyr University and has been inspiring me ever since. Her cooking videos are laugh-out-loud funny! Her cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family, is on my kitchen shelf tattered and filled with food spills. The sure marks of a well-used cookbook.
Here’s my plan for one of our upcoming meals – the recipes are easy to make and will get me out of the kitchen and enjoying the company in no time at all. And, of course, they are gluten free too.
If you are looking for a scrumptious appetizer, look no further than Julie’s roasted garlic white bean dip. It is quick and easy to make and is delicious served with rice crackers and vegetable crudités.
One of my favorite holiday entrees to make is Cynthia’s nori wrapped wasabi salmon. Guests think it is exotic and gourmet and I know it takes all of 5 minutes to make!
I’ll be serving Cynthia’s Emerald City Salad on the side. It is vibrant, beautiful and delicious. Leftovers keep for days in the refrigerator, and the flavors actually improve with time.
And for dessert, Julie’s chocolate dipped strawberries are a hit every time. Since strawberries aren’t in season this time of year, you can use any of the gorgeous citrus available at the markets or perfectly ripe pears. I can make the fruit the day before and they look just glorious when served at the holiday table.
May your meals this holiday season be scrumptious – enjoy!
by Julie Negrin
Dipping food into melted chocolate is always an exciting activity! When making this recipe with kids, make sure that you keep the chocolate cool enough for their little fingers to touch but not so cold that it hardens.
- 30 medium-sized strawberries or other seasonal sliced fruit
- 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or coconut oil
KIDS 2 and up: Wash and dry the strawberries. Make sure that the berries are completely dry or the chocolate will not adhere to them. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
ADULTS: In the top of a double boiler that you’ve set over simmering water, stir the chocolate and butter or oil until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove the chocolate from the heat but leave the water simmering in case the chocolate starts to harden and you need to re-heat it. If you’re worried about small kids touching a still-warm pan, you can transfer the chocolate to a cool dish.
KIDS 2 and up: Hold each strawberry by its stem and dip it ¾ of the way into the chocolate. Swirl it and shake off excess chocolate. Place the chocolate-dipped strawberry on the baking sheet lined with waxed paper and repeat with the rest of the strawberries. They can harden in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
-It’s best if the strawberries are at room temperature rather than cold.
-If you don’t have a double boiler (which is necessary since the chocolate will burn if put directly over heat), simply place a metal bowl on top of a saucepan or put a small saucepan inside another larger saucepan. Alternatively, you can microwave the chocolate and butter or oil in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals until it is melted.
-“Simmering” means a few small bubbles are barely breaking the surface.
-This recipe can be prepared up to 1-2 days before serving – just store the strawberries in the refrigerator and remove 30 minutes before serving.
-If your kids want to create designs, melt some white chocolate, dip a spoon in, and swirl designs onto the chocolate-dipped strawberries. Or, they can dip the chocolate-dipped strawberries in sprinkles before the chocolate hardens.