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Five Healthy and Warming Recipes for a Cold Day

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Nothing is more satisfying than a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter night and coming home to a cozy environment and a plate of a hearty meal that just came out of the oven. These indeed are one of the best parts of winter.

However, most of our winter comfort food is laced with excess fat and calories and result in weight gain, which can take months to reduce. That is how the term “holiday weight” came into being. But don’t worry because we have made a list of five healthy recipes that are good alternatives to high-calorie food.

Glazed Cornish Hens with Rice Stuffing

Ingredients
Unsalted butter – 3 tablespoons
Chopped yellow onions – ⅔ cup
Celery – 1/3 cup, chopped
Minced garlic – 1 teaspoon
Uncooked wild rice – ½ cup
Unsalted chicken broth – 1½ cup
Seedless red grapes – ¾ cup (halved lengthwise)
Thyme leaves – 1 ½ teaspoon, chopped
Kosher salt – 2 teaspoons
Black pepper – 1 teaspoon
Olive oil cooking spray
Cornish hens – 4, 1 ¼ lb.
White balsamic vinegar – 3/4 cup
Honey – 2 tablespoons
Thyme sprig – 1

What to Do
• Melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and continuously stir till the onions become soft. Then, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the rice and keep stirring for one minute. Now add the chicken broth and make it boil. Cover the mixture and cook it until the rice is cooked and the broth is absorbed. Stir in the grapes, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper, and transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool.

• Preheat your oven to 425°F, and place a wire rack over a large baking tray and spray it with oil. Stuff the hens with the rice mixture and tie the legs and tuck the wings. Place the hens breast-up on the rack and butter them with the leftover butter. Drizzle the salt and pepper, and bake until golden brown.

• Add vinegar, honey, and the thyme sprig in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir occasionally and throw out the thyme sprig once the mixture turns into a syrup.

• After the hens turn golden brown, brush them with the vinegar mixture, and bake until they are deeply browned.

Beef Tenderloin with a Horseradish and Herb Crust

Ingredients
Olive oil cooking spray
Horseradish – 6 ounces, peeled
Parsley leaves – 2 tablespoons, chopped
Thyme – 1 tablespoon, chopped
Rosemary – 2 teaspoons, chopped
Minced garlic – 2 teaspoons
Center-cut beef tenderloin roast, trimmed – 3 lb.
Kosher salt – 1½ teaspoon
Black pepper – 1½teaspoon
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Dijon mustard – 2 tablespoons

What to Do
• Preheat your oven to 400°F. Put a rack in a large roasting pan and spray the rack with cooking spray. Shred the horseradish to make one cup and mix it in a bowl with thyme, parsley, rosemary, and garlic.

• Dry the tenderloin with paper towels and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Mix the oil and mustard and brush this mixture over the beef. Then coat it with the horseradish.

• Bake it for 45 minutes; check the thickest part to see if the thermometer reads 130°F.

Bean-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients
Uncooked, whole-grain (not pearled) faro – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Dried cherries – ½ cup, chopped
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Yellow onion – 1 cup, chopped
Celery – ½ cup, finely chopped
Carrot – ½ cup, finely chopped
Sage – 1 tablespoon, chopped
Unsalted cannellini beans – 15-16 oz., drained and rinsed
Chopped hazelnuts – 1/2 cup, toasted
Kosher salt – 1½ teaspoons
Black pepper – 1 teaspoon
Medium acorn squash – 3 1½ lb.
Unsalted butter – ¼ cup, melted

What to Do
• Rinse the farro and boil it with water over high heat. Lower the heat and add the cherries before the farro is tender. Drain the mixture after 30 minutes.

• Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add celery, onions, and carrots; cook until they are tender and brown. Add sage and stir for one minute. Remove the skillet from heat and add the farro mixture, hazelnuts, salt, pepper, and beans.

• Cut the squashes lengthwise in half, and remove the seeds. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and brush the inside with butter. Sprinkle salt and pepper, and bake for about 45 minutes.

• Add the farro mixture evenly to each squash and drizzle with the remaining butter. Place them into the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes.

Roasted Lamb with Parsley Pistachio Gremolata

Ingredients
Frenched bone-in lamb leg – 5-lb.
Sliced garlic – 2 tablespoons
Extra-virgin olive oil – ½ cup
Black pepper – 1½ teaspoon
Kosher salt – 2¼ teaspoons
Parsley leaves – ⅓ cup, chopped
Oregano – 3 tablespoons, chopped
Minced garlic – 1½ teaspoon
Roasted salted pistachios – ½ cup, chopped
Lemon zest – 2 teaspoons

What to Do
• Keep the lamb at room temperature for 30 minutes. Trim the fat around it and make deep slits on the surface. Insert 1-2 garlic slices in the slits, brush the lamb with oil, and sprinkle pepper and salt. Mix parsley, minced garlic, oregano, and 4 tablespoons of oil, and brush 3 tablespoons of this mixture on the lamb.

• Preheat your oven to 425°F and place a rack in a roasting pan. Combine the parsley mixture, remaining oil, pistachio, and lemon zest, and blend the mixture until finely chopped. Save it as a side-serving for later.

• Bake the lamb fat-side up for 20 minutes and reduce the temperature to 325°F. Bake for about 1 hour and check the thickest part for 130-135°F for medium-rare.

Roasted Chinese Red Snapper

Ingredients
Expeller-pressed peanut oil – 3 tablespoons
Whole red snapper- 4-lb., cleaned, scaled, gutted, with fin and gills removed
Low-sodium soy sauce – ¼ plus 1 Tbsp.
Scallions – 7
Ginger – 2 tablespoons, thinly sliced
Garlic – 1 tablespoon, thinly sliced
Cilantro – 1 bunch
Toasted sesame oil – 2 tablespoons
Mirin – 2 tablespoons
Crushed red pepper – ½ teaspoon
1 Lime – cut into 6 wedges

What to Do
• Line a baking sheet with foil and brush it with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Brush the exterior and interior of the fish with the remaining peanut oil and drizzle a teaspoon of soy sauce inside the cavity. Cut 3 2’’ slits on each side of the fish.

• Cut 5 scallions into 2’’ pieces and stuff into the fish with ginger, garlic, and cilantro.

• Bake the fish for about 45 minutes or until it flakes easily by a fork. Remove the fish from the oven, increase the heat, and put the oven rack 6’’ away from the heat to broil.

• Mix sesame oil, soy sauce, crushed pepper, and mirin in a bowl. Brush the fish with 2 tablespoons of this mixture and place the fish in the oven to broil for about 6 minutes or until slightly charred in spots.

• Slice the remaining scallions thinly and sprinkle them over the fish. Enjoy it with the remaining mixture of soy sauce and lime wedges.

Conclusion
You can now eat healthy food without gaining all that extra holiday weight. Don’t worry, just because they are labeled as healthy, doesn’t mean that they aren’t tasty. Maybe the thought of being in shape on Christmas shall convince you to try out these healthy dishes.

( Photo credit: Bigstockphoto.com )

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