Happy and Healthy: A Family Meal for the Holidays

Kari Lund

Coach

Recipes, Nutrition

The simple sight of fruitcake or Swedish rosettes brings me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen filled with the assortment of goodies and the scent of a holiday meal being cooked. The festive mood in the room was filled with anticipation waiting for Christmas morning. Christmas Eve holds just as much excitement for me as an adult, and I’m still grinning with pure joy on Christmas morning. We often celebrated our holiday with gifts to each other on the night of Christmas Eve, but it would always have to wait until our meal was made, eaten, and dishes were complete. My grandmother would always make us a home-cooked meal on Christmas Eve along with my aunts, and though she has passed, the tradition continues with a special feast on the night before Christmas.

 

There is such enjoyment that comes from creating a meal together, especially when you experience it as a family. It can, however, be stressful to bring a healthful spread to the table that still holds the nostalgia of the holidays as well as maintains your current eating goals as an athlete or health conscious family.

 

 

For this holiday, leave the stress behind with a simple menu that will leave everyone content and able to enjoy the rest of the day or night with loved ones. Roasted pork tenderloin is both delicious and warming with a comforting porcetta style spice blend topped with a traditional cranberry sauce. The other meal components include an easy sweet potato soufflé and a festive Brussels sprouts sauté that can be put together in minutes. For dessert, we’re complementing our meal with mulled wine poached pears topped with blue cheese and walnuts. The whole meal will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours to cook if only one person is doing the cooking. I’ve included a sequence of how to manage all of the cooking at the end of the recipes. You can save time by baking the sweet potatoes and making the cranberry sauce and pears the day before as well as seasoning the tenderloin in advance. From my family to yours, I wish you the happiest and healthiest of holidays!

 

 

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce

pork tenderloin

[Photo credit: Kari Lund]

 

Serves: 6

Prep time: 10 minutes (plus 30 min to rest), Cook time: 40 min

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin (whole, about 1.5-2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ? teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, or enough to form a thick paste when combined with spices
  • Additional sprigs of sage for garnish, optional

 

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Roast fennel seeds and red pepper in frying pan until just starting to brown and are very fragrant.
  2. Combine fennel and red pepper with all other dry spices in a mortar and pestle and crush until fairly fine.
  3. Add garlic and olive oil to spice mixture to form a thick paste.
  4. Rub spice mixture onto pork tenderloin on all sides and let sit 30 minutes. Tenderloin can be seasoned and placed in fridge up to a day in advance if desired.
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  6. While oven is preheating, sear tenderloin in lightly greased skillet on all sides. Use an oven proof skillet (like cast iron) if possible to save time on clean-up.
  7. Roast tenderloin in oven proof skillet or on a baking sheet until internal temp reaches 145 degrees, approx. 40 minutes.
  8. Take tenderloin out of oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
  9. To serve, slice into discs, plate, and top with cranberry sauce.

 

Cranberry Sauce Ingredients:

  • 6 oz whole fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Pinot Noir or other red wine (optional)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • Zest of one small orange and its juice

 

Cranberry Sauce Preparation Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil and let simmer 10 min
  3. Stir and smash the cranberries when they start to pop.
  4. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.
  5. Sauce can be made 2-3 days in advance and kept in the fridge or can be frozen until ready to reheat and serve.

 

Sweet Potato Soufflé

sweet potato souffle

[Photo credit: Kari Lund]

Serves: 6

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 60 min (includes time to bake the potatoes)

 

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup parmesan or manchego, grated fine for dusting ramekins
  • Butter for greasing ramekins
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 3-4 sweet potatoes baked)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup milk of any kind (I used coconut milk)
  • ½ cup parmesan, manchego, gruyere, or gouda cheese, grated
  • 4 egg whites

 

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork (generously) and bake about 40 minutes until soft. Remove from oven and let cool until cool enough to handle. Scoop cooled potato out of the skin and mash.
  3. Sauté shallot and garlic until the shallot begins to be translucent.
  4. Lightly grease six (6-8 ounce) small ramekins and dust with the parmesan cheese.
  5. Combine olive oil, milk, parmesan, and sweet potato in a bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
  7. Gently fold egg whites into sweet potato mixture until combined.
  8. Pour into prepared ramekins.
  9. Bake about 15 minutes until nicely puffed and lightly browned.
  10. Serve immediately. These will lose some of their “puff” as they sit and cool.

 

Brussels Sprouts Sauté

Brussels sprout souffle

[Photo credit: Kari Lund]

Serves: 4-6

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup cranberry sauce (from the pork tenderloin recipe above)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded or sliced thin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds

 

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in a large frying pan and add shallot.
  2. Sauté shallot on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes so it turns translucent and begins to crisp slightly.
  3. Slice or shred Brussels sprouts while shallot is cooking.
  4. Toss in cranberries and cranberry sauce and stir fry a few minutes.
  5. Add Brussels sprouts and stir fry 3-5 minutes until sprouts are bright green and warmed.
  6. Season with pepper and salt to taste.
  7. Add pomegranate seeds and toss to combine.

 

Mulled Wine Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

mulled pairs

[Photo credit: Kari Lund]

Serves: 6

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 40 min

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 pears
  • ½ bottle red wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons blue cheese
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

 

Preparation Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine wine, honey, and spices and heat over medium heat.
  2. Peel the pear and place into the mulled wine.
  3. Simmer uncovered about 40 minutes until pears are fork tender. Turn pears occasionally so they cook and color evenly on all sides.
  4. Remove pears from wine and let cool. You can keep the wine to drink as mulled wine by straining the whole spices out first. Serve wine hot or at room temperature.
  5. Slice pears into halves and scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or tablespoon.
  6. Sprinkle a small amount of blue cheese and walnuts into each pear and serve with a little drizzle of the mulled wine.
  7. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.
  8. These can be served warm or cold and can be made a day in advance.

 

Sequence of Orchestration:

  1. If possible, simmer the pears and prepare the cranberry sauce the day before and keep covered in fridge. Reheat to serve.
  2. You can also bake the sweet potatoes a day in advance, mash them, and keep in fridge until ready to add to the soufflé.
  3. If sweet potatoes are not baked yet, preheat oven and bake the sweet potatoes.
  4. Season the tenderloin and set aside.
  5. If pears are not simmered in advance, place pears in the mulled wine and simmer until done. When done, set pears aside in a dish until cooled enough to slice in half and plate. Strain the mulled wine and keep to serve with the meal, if desired.
  6. If cranberry sauce is not made in advance, make the cranberry sauce and set it aside until ready to serve.
  7. Sauté the shallot and garlic and prep ramekins for the soufflé.
  8. Prep the ingredients for the brussels sprouts and set aside until ready to cook.
  9. Preheat oven for the tenderloin.
  10. Place tenderloin in oven.
  11. Finish and plate pears with the blue cheese and walnuts so they are ready to serve.
  12. While tenderloin is in the oven, start the shallot sautéing for the Brussels sprouts and can add rest of ingredients except the pomegranate seeds and sprouts (the sprouts may start to get soggy if they’re added too soon and the pomegranate lightens in color with prolonged heat).
  13. Combine the soufflé ingredients and pour into the ramekins and set aside until tenderloin is out of the oven.
  14. Remove tenderloin from oven.
  15. Adjust oven temperature for the soufflés and put them in the oven while tenderloin rests. After 5 minutes plate tenderloin with cranberry sauce ready to serve.
  16. Finish the Brussels sprouts and place in a serving dish.
  17. Remove the soufflés from the oven and serve.

 

More delicious holiday food and gifts:

Small Gifts and Stocking Stuffers for Foodies

 

 

 

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