American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition

 

Quick and Fabulous Holiday Food

Best Holiday Salad and a Lazy Lasagna 

beautiful salad with beetsThe key to a festive, enticing holiday salad is adding something with a bold, bright color like beets, winter squash, or orange segments. The jewel colors are enticing and make the salad feel special. If salad feels like a treat it is a double win for everyone. 

Next, add some toasted nuts and a creamy component like cheese or avocado. All of this against a backdrop of dark greens looks spectacular. An olive-oil based dressing makes everything shine and brings out all of the flavors.

Here’s how to do it, whether you have 5 minutes or 30 minutes:

Greens

1 minute: pre-washed dark lettuce in a bag, if its a little tired-looking dunk it into some ice water for a few minutes, spin dry and it will be fresh again. 

5 minutes: wash, spin and chop some dark leaf lettuces. Add some radicchio for a beautiful color and crispy texture. 

“Jewels”

1 minute: drain canned mandarin orange segments  (packed in juice, not syrup).

5 minutes: slice pre-steamed beets from the produce section of the grocery store.

30 minutes: toss pre-chopped butternut squash, sweet potatoes or carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 425 degrees until tender and the edges are starting to brown, about 25 minutes. Let them cool a few minutes before adding to the salad.

Nuts

1 minute: use pre-toasted nuts.

5 minutes: put whole pecans or walnuts into a dry skillet and toast over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until you can smell them. Take them off the heat and let cool for a minute before adding to the salad.

Creamy

1 minute: crumble any cheese you like, such as gorgonzola, blue cheese, goat cheese or feta. 

5 minutes: slice an avocado and toss with lemon juice to prevent it from turning brown. 

You can add both of these to the salad – it will be extra special!

Dressing

1 minute: use your favorite bottled dressing or a pre-made dressing.

5 minutes: in a jar put 1/3 lemon juice and 2/3 olive oil (make as much as you need for the size of your salad), add a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Shake and that’s it – it’s really good. 

10 minutes: add chopped shallot and your favorite herb to the dressing above. 

You can layer your ingredients in your salad bowl, and toss with the dressing just before serving. Or, if you want a different presentation, layer the greens, “jewels”, nuts and creamy bits on a platter and drizzle the dressing over it all.

That’s it – in almost no time at all you’ve got a dish worthy of your holiday table and any potluck. Everyone will appreciate how your salad made them feel special, and you can appreciate something healthy that took no time at all to create. 

Lazy Lasagna

Everyone loves a big pan of lasagna, and here’s how to put a delicious one together in mere minutes. The trick is using frozen ravioli from the store in place of cooking or soaking the noodles and making a filling. You can put the ravioli in straight from the freezer.

  • 2 Bags frozen ravioli (choose your filling, I like spinach and cheese)
  • 1-2 jars of your favorite marinara or pasta sauce (I love Rao’s)
  • 1 bag pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated parmesan, about 1/2 cup
  • Optional: frozen mini-meatballs, frozen peppers or any vegetable you like
  1. Preheat your oven to 350
  2. Spray your 9 x 13” pan with some olive oil spray to prevent sticking (quick clean-up too!). 
  3. Spread about 1/2 cup or so of sauce in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add a layer of ravioli.
  5. Spoon on another layer of sauce.
  6. If using, add a layer of meatballs or vegetables.
  7. Layer more sauce and ravioli until the pan is full.
  8. Top with the grated cheeses (if making ahead, cover with foil and keep in the refrigerator until you need it).
  9. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, depending on your oven. The top should be browned and bubbling, and the center should be hot. 

Enjoy!

There are lots more recipes and helpful strategies for enjoyable healthy eating in Calm Your Inflammation: The Anti-Inflammatory Eating Plan That Will Change Your Life. Order a copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble today!

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