#MeatlessMonday: Festive Holiday Recipes of the Week

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 12/02/2013 | 09:45 AM EST

You can be merry and meatless at the same time

Between last week’s Thanksgiving and all the upcoming holiday festivities, it’s fair to assume that overindulging is inevitable. But it doesn’t mean you have to over do it. Cutting meat out of your diet at least once a week can have long term effects on your health and overall wellbeing, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and in some cases, colon cancer.

For you’re not exactly sold on the Meatless Monday bandwagon just yet, consider taking a stab at some of these holiday recipes. It’s so tasty that you won’t even notice you’re going meatless.

Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf

1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped and toasted
3 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups diced sweet onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup grated carrot
1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple (use a firm variety)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried thyme)
Salt & pepper, to taste (I use about 3/4 tsp sea salt + more Herbamare)
Red pepper flakes, to taste

Balsamic Apple Glaze

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp apple butter (or unsweetened applesauce in a pinch)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions: Preheat oven to 325F. Rinse and strain lentils. Place lentils into pot with 3 cups of water (or veg broth). Bring to boil, season with salt. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes. Stir frequently, add touch of water if needed. Over-cook the lentils slightly and mash slightly with a spoon when ready. Toast walnuts at 325F for about 8-10 min. Set aside. Increase oven temp to 350F. Whisk ground flax with water in a small bowl and set aside. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion for 5 minutes, season with salt. Add diced celery, shredded carrot and apple, and raisins. Sautee for about 5 min more. Remove from heat. In large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasonings to taste. Grease loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Press mixture firmly into pan. Whisk glaze ingredients, spread half on top of loaf. Reserve rest for a dipping sauce. Bake at 350F for 40-50 min, uncovered. Edges will be lightly brown. Cool in pan for at least 10 min before transferring to cooling rack.

***

Curry and Maple Sweet Potato Soup

4 sweet potatoes
1 small sweet onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups light, salt-free vegetable broth
2 1/2 tablespoons mild curry
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Dash salt, to taste
Dash cilantro, nutmeg and clove for garnish

Directions: Peel, dice the sweet potatoes. Chop onion, add along with garlic and olive oil to a large soup pot. Cook onion and garlic over a medium-high heat until onion becomes translucent. Add sweet potatoes, cook for about 15 min until they begin to soften. Then add 4 cups of vegetable broth, bring to boil. Once sweet potatoes are fully cooked and just about to fall apart, remove from heat. Doing 1 cup at a time, puree sweet potato and broth mixture in  food processor. Transfer pureed mixture back to the soup pot, add curry and maple syrup. Also add remaining vegetable broth. You want just enough to make it soupy. Bring soup to a low simmer to have flavors meld. Let cool to edible temperature, then salt to taste.

***

Christmas Tree Salad

1 bunch organic swiss chard (red or green will work) - rinsed well + sliced into thin ribbons
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (about the amount from 1 medium pomegranate)
3/4 cup frozen red globe grapes, sliced*
2 satsuma mandarin oranges, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/4-1/2 cup chopped pecans, raw
2 Tbsp dried cranberries (or other dried fruit like dried golden raisins or even chopped dates) - organic
1 small honeycrisp apple, organic - chopped

Dressing/Seasonings

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup, grade B
1/3 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp fine black pepper
1/8 tsp coriander
A pinch of cayenne (optional, but warms up things nicely)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
A few pinches of satsuma orange zest

star topper: 1 slice of toast (I used sprouted grain)

Optional ingredients: Pear, avocado, dates, bell pepper, corn, grains like quinoa or brown rice, beans, tomatoes, diced roasted squash or sweet potato, gosh.

Directions: Prep all ingredients and toss them with the dressing/spices in a large bowl. Toss and mix very well since it will help to distribute the flavors and infuse the chard with flavor. You can serve right away or chill in the fridge for up to 12 hours in advance before serving. Any longer and your chard will begin to get soft. Serve raw and chilled. For the "star" tree topper, simply toast any slice of bread and using either your knife (free-hand) or a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out a toast star to top the tree salad.

(Photo: Photostock Israel/Getty Images)

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