During the holidays I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen with my cooking team. I’ll be throwing parties, creating food as gifts, and discovering healthy ways to eat my family’s traditional holiday recipes. I’ll share some of my newest and most fun party-food recipes with you. You’ll be able to get more of these recipes in my latest cookbook, The AGE BEAUTIFULLY Cookbook.
Appetizers are excellent party food. Anything that guests can eat while standing up is a good idea. Cheese trays are very popular these days for good reason. Cheese has many health benefits. Whether it’s a hard, long-aged cheese like Parmesan or Manchego, or a medium-aged cheese like cheddar, or a soft, young cheese like burrata, it contains the FoodTrient zinc. Zinc is an antioxidant which increases resistance to infection, reduces your risk of macular degeneration, and maintains collagen and elastin for beautiful skin.
My new Mangosteen Chutney recipe with onions and ginger and five-spice powder is perfect on a cheese tray. Mangosteens have just gone out of season, so if you can’t find frozen mangosteen pulp at your local Asian market, you can substitute pears in this chutney recipe, even Asian pears. Mangosteens have been shown to reduce inflammation. The FoodTrient quercitin in the onions supports your immune system and may reduce allergic sensitivity. The FoodTrient gingerol found in ginger alleviates nausea and inflammatory conditions.
Another great party appetizer is a tray of Melon Balls with Mint and Prosciutto. Melons are incredibly good for your skin. Both cantaloupe and honeydew contain SOD (superoxide dismutase)—a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that keeps your skin young-looking. Both also have plenty of vitamin C, which aids tissue regeneration for beautiful skin. As if that’s not enough beauty benefits, cantaloupes contain the FoodTrient carotenoids, which your body turns into vitamin A. This vitamin boosts collagen production, strengthens skin and hair, and keeps eyes healthy. Melons are truly beauty-boosting fruits. The content of another FoodTrient chlorophyll in mint purifies blood, manages bacterial growth, detoxifies the body, and protects against certain cancers.
For seated holiday dinners, I like to provide plenty of salads and side dishes along with the main courses. My new Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad (see recipe below) will be at home on any Thanksgiving table or at a Christmas feast. The whole grains in my salad, such as brown rice, wild rice, and quinoa, provide the FoodTrients fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Fiber, a detoxifying agent, keeps you feeling full to help you lose weight. Omega-3s are great for your skin: keeping it elastic and hydrated and aiding circulation to it. I add dried golden berries to this salad because of their immune-boosting health benefits and sweet tang. Navitas Naturals sells packets of sun-dried golden berries, hand-picked in the Andes mountains of Columbia, online at http://navitasnaturals.com/product/451/Goldenberries.html.
I’ve recently developed another wonderful holiday salad with arugula and radicchio. These bitter lettuces contain cancer-fighting compounds. Radicchio also has the FoodTrient lutein for skin that stretches without wrinkling. My Arugula and Radicchio Salad tastes great with a sweet pomegranate-molasses dressing. Pomegranate molasses is made by boiling down pomegranate juice into a syrup. Most Middle Eastern markets carry it. Surfas, a culinary store in Los Angeles full of hard-to-find items, sells it online at www.culinarydistrict.com/5122.html. Pomegranate contains the FoodTrient anthocyanins, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells and improve capillary function for beautiful skin.
For a dessert that can be sliced and laid out on a holiday buffet table, you can’t beat my friend Ossie’s Banana Citrus Cake (see recipe below). She makes it with bananas, orange juice, cranberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips. The FoodTrient vitamin C in orange juice helps the body resist infection and aids tissue regeneration. Cranberries and walnuts are extremely rich in antioxidants like the FoodTrients resveratrol and omega-3 fatty acids. Chocolate has antioxidant-laden catechins, a FoodTrient that reduces your risk of heart disease and heart attack by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. This cake isn’t just good for you, it tastes amazing. It’s sure to be a hit at any party.
BANANA CITRUS CAKE
I make this cake in a loaf pan, but you can bake it in a bundt pan. You can make a glaze for the cake by mixing 1 Tbsp. of orange juice, ½cup of powdered sugar, and a pinch of orange zest.
2¼ cups flour
1 cup raw or demerara sugar
2½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup fresh orange juice
½ cup melted butter or Smart Balance 50/50 spread
1½ cups mashed banana
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup walnut pieces
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the first 4 dry ingredients and mix for 30 seconds.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, butter, eggs, and banana.
4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and beat at a medium speed for 3 minutes.
5. Fold in the cranberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
6. Pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake for 35–50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean when you remove it.
7. Cool for at least 1 hour, then slice and serve.
WILD RICE AND QUINOA SALAD
½ cup wild rice
½ cup brown rice
½ cup red quinoa
⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
2–3 Tbsp. honey or agave syrup
2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. flaxseed oil
2 tsp. sea salt
Dash of white pepper
Cooked vegetable mixture:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
½ cup diced cremini mushrooms
½ cup kale leaves, cut into strips
¼ cup diced yellow bell pepper
¼ cup diced green bell pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
¼ cup dried golden berries
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Soak the wild and brown rice together in enough water to cover for 1 hour.
2. Cook the quinoa according to package directions (varies by brand). Chill in the refrigerator.
3. Cook the brown and wild rice like pasta, in a large pot of salted water over high heat. Boil for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse in a colander with cold water.
4. Make the dressing while the rice is cooking: mix vinegar, agave, soy sauce, flaxseed oil, salt, and pepper together in a glass bowl.
5. Toss the dressing with the wild rice, brown rice, and quinoa. Chill in the refrigerator.
6. Heat a sauté pan and add the oil. Cook the onions and mushrooms over medium heat for 5–10 minutes. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Chill in the refrigerator until cool, about 10 minutes.
7. To assemble, combine the dressed rice, cooked vegetables, remaining raw vegetables, and golden berries and toss together until the mixture is uniform. Add seasoning, if desired. You can chill this salad for an hour or two to let the flavors blend, or serve right away.
For more great recipes, click here!