Original Printing of this article Palm Beach Woman Magazine.
Yikes! Are the holidays almost here? Never fear Debra K, host of the television show Journey into Wellbeing and Natural Health Explorer, is here to “healthify” your holidays.
With the holidays right around the corner there is a good chance you’ll soon be noshing on office goodies, grabbing meals on the go, attending school recitals and partaking in a few well deserved cocktails. While all these activities are festive and fun, there’s a good chance as the days progress so will the number on your scale. Most of us will pack on a few extra pounds by the New Year and regardless of our good intentions after December, there’s a good chance we will never lose it. Add on a decade of busy holidays and your staring at an extra ten to twenty pounds in the mirror. While this busy time of year isn’t the most ideal to make drastic changes, there is much you can do to keep your long-term health goals in mind by making good eating choices.
Eating out can be challenging as there are always an array of delectable dishes that tempt you away from your commitment. Unfortunately, many items on restaurant menus contain more salt, fat and calories than needed for any one meal. Did you know a plate of nachos can contain over a thousand calories? For some that is almost a whole day’s worth of their caloric needs.
As a resident of Palm Beach County I can vouch for the fact that there are many great eateries to choose from when hunger pangs hit. To help with our holiday preparation I decided to head out and challenge some of the top chefs with providing healthy holiday recipes. During recent explorations into Palm Beach I quickly learned…you do not have to sacrifice taste to enjoy some healthy local cuisine.
First Stop: Zuccarelli’s Italian Kitchen
ZUCCARELLI’S CHALLENGE: PROVIDE ITALIAN FARE THAT WILL NOT INCREASE THE WAISTLINE
Often people associate Italian food with lots of carbohydrates and fat and with the new gluten-free craze some have given it up entirely. But, there are many great options when choosing to incorporate traditional Italian into your diet. Originating within the fabled borders of Italy, The Zuccarelli family team, Mom Frances and Daughter Olimpia, have been serving up the region’s finest Italian for over 30 years in Palm Beach. There are many healthy options on the menu including gluten free pasta. You will find it easy to stay on track while enjoying some dishes fresh from the kitchen.
I joined Olimpia and Chef Douglas A. Chmielewicz in the kitchen. Amid the flurry of flying pizza dough and the enticing aroma of garlic, I watched enraptured as they worked their magic and provided two great recipes for our Holiday Recipe Redo.
Chef Douglas prepped the first dish, Antipasto Di Mare and I was pleased to see how simple it was to make and that all the ingredients were minimally processed and prepped. The dish is not only delightful, tasty and simple, but it is something South Floridians can easily make at home after a quick stop at the local fish market. In shellfish — including shrimp, clams, scallops, lobsters, crabs and abalones —15 percent or less of the calories come from fat, making this a great “low fat” option.
This mix of shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari, and mussels tossed together in a zesty lemon dressing is a great option for Christmas Eve.
- 1 C Calamari, cleaned and cut into rings
- 10-12 baby shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 scallops
- 8 clams – add for last 4 minutes
- 4-5 mussels – add for last 4 minutes
- Handful of capers, kalamata olives and pepperoncini as desired
Heat 1 C of water in a large skillet and cover and poach the seafood for 5-6 minutes. When cooked, drain the hot water and add ice cubes to cool the seafood. When cooled, transfer cooked seafood to a separate bowl. Toss in capers, kalamata olives and pepperoncini.
- ½ C Diced celery
- 1 T Balsamic vinegar
- ½ C Fresh lemon juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
In a separate bowl add diced celery, lemon juice, parsley and a touch of balsamic vinegar to form the dressing. Toss into seafood mixture. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.
Create Salad made of lettuce with sliced cucumber, onion and tomatoes. Top salad with the seafood mixture and enjoy.
I then asked the Chef to quickly put together a healthy side dish that could easily be made at home. Within a few minutes, he had created vibrant green garlic infused sautéed Broccoli Rabe. Similar to turnip greens, this green is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron.
Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil. Add the smashed garlic and crushed red pepper and bring to medium heat. When the garlic is golden brown, toss in the Rabe and a dash of salt. Steam for approximately 6 minutes by placing another pan over the sauté pan or add a lid. Shake occasionally to prevent burning. When rabe is tender, serve immediately.
If you don’t feel like cooking, both these dishes are regular menu items, so plan on stopping in and enjoying with the Zuccarelli family. www.zuccarellis.com
Next Stop: Table 26°
TABLE 26 CHALLENGE: CREATE A HEALTHY HOLIDAY INSPIRED SALAD
Table 26’s atmosphere and menu carries you to a warm and welcoming place with their exceptionally delicious comfort food dishes. Owners, Eddie and Ozzie, purposely chose West Palm Beach in the heart of the historical Mango Promenade district. Leading their culinary team is Chef Steven Polowy who personally holds a deep passion for the freshest and finest food. Whenever possible he utilizes local farms to ensure the freshness of all produce offerings. Chef Steven is known for taking traditional comfort food and adding surprising twists.
I was very excited to see the Chef’s salad offering. Staying true to the flavors of fall, he created an exciting combination of squash, cranberries and turkey – a blend that immediately took me to happy days of holidays past. This salad is a great option for those trying to stay trim as the Chef removed the traditional additions of heavy cheese and fried croutons and instead offered a healthy preparation of the squash providing high doses of natural fiber and carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease.
Butternut Squash “Croutons”
- 1 Butternut squash, peeled and medium diced
- Salt and pepper
Season and roast butternut squash for 15 minutes @ 350 until cooked. Cool. Note: Treat the butternut squash as croutons and serve either room temp or preferably slightly warm atop.
- 3 oz. Cooked, shredded boneless skinless turkey breasts
- 1 C Dry cranberries
- 1 C Cooked green beans thinly sliced in length
- 1 C Toasted pecans, seasoned to taste.
- 6 oz. Baby arugula
- 1 oz. Apple cider vinaigrette (or to taste)
- 16 Butternut squash “croutons”
- 12 Endive spears
- Salt and pepper
Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
- 1oz. Apple cider vinegar
- 1 t Dijon mustard
- 1 t Honey
- Salt and pepper
- 3 oz. Olive oil
Combine all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly emulsify olive oil into vinegar mix and season to taste. Reserve the dressing for final assembly.
Toss portioned ingredients of cranberries, arugula, turkey, green beans, pecans, vinaigrette and season to taste. Align three endive per plate, divide equal amounts of salad per plate as well. Garnish atop and around with 4 butternut squash as if they are croutons. Serve immediately.
If you think this salad sounds amazing, you should check out what other fabulous offerings are on the menu at www.table26palmbeach.com
Third Stop: Chunkie Dunkies
Is a Decadent Dessert Possible? Chunkie Dunkies says YES!
CHUNKIE DUNKIES CHALLENGE: REDO A TRADITIONAL APPLE PIE
We cannot make it through to January without indulging in some delicious sweets. It just wouldn’t be right. Usually when choosing a dessert, our focus isn’t necessarily on health, but on incredible flavor and texture – we are looking for an experience. Fortunately I was able to track down Chef Dina Marie Lauro, who is offering a sweet option that over-delivers to all these experiential needs, including health.
Dina is a Raw Vegan Chef. Growing up in an Italian family she was born to cook, but her “school” training began at the Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts (NGI) in Manhattan, NY. At NGI, she learned how to create delicious, plant-based foods without animal ingredients. Following her passion to create healthy and tasty desserts, in June 2011, Dina launched her cookie business Chunkie Dunkies.
Dina was a great choice to offer us a healthier dessert for the holidays. Her cookie company, Chunkie Dunkies, has a full line of gourmet raw/vegan cookies and brownies that are gluten-free, dairy-free and cholesterol-free. Not only are they delicious but they are loaded with nutrients, enzymes, protein, and fiber.
This pie contains fiber, protein and vitamins from the raw nut crust and the uncooked apples. Instead of white sugar, Dina made this version with pure maple syrup for minerals and antioxidants. Because eggs and butter were not included in this recipe, it is a great choice for those worried about their cholesterol. By not baking this version all the natural food enzymes remain alive so the body can digest easier giving you more energy. With living foods, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break the food down.
When you eat pure raw foods you are feeding your body premium fuel for it to thrive. Raw food contains natural vitamins and minerals our bodies need to be their best. If you want to feel and look great it’s important to incorporate real “fresh” food that hasn’t been destroyed by high heats. Fresh salads, smoothies with vegetables, fruits from the trees are all great choices. There are no short cuts. If you want to be healthy eat more raw organic produce.
Delicious Live Thinly Sliced Layers of Raw Apples contained in a Rich Nutty Crust topped with a Mmm Mmm Cookie Crumble
Makes one 9 inch crust or 4, four inch tart shells
- 2 C Raw walnuts
- 2 C Raw pecans
- 3/4 t Sea salt
- 5 Dates, pitted and soaked for 5 minutes (save some soak water)
- 1 T Pure maple syrup
- 1 T Unrefined coconut oil, melted
- 1/8-1/4 Soaked date water or filtered Water
- Dollop of coconut oil for greasing pie dish
Prepare pie pan with coconut oil and grease the inside and edges.
In a food processor, using the S blade, process all nuts and sea salt into a fine nut flour. Place nut mixture in medium size bowl. In food processor, add the dates, coconut oil, maple and soaked date water and process until mixture is creamy. Mix wet ingredients into dry making sure to form a ball. Press the nut dough 1/4 inch thick into 9″ pie dish or tart shells. Place in refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours, in freezer for 2 hours or in dehydrator for 5 hours at 115 degrees. When dough is firm, pie slices are easier to remove.
- 5 Apples, peeled and cored
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 C Pure maple syrup
- 1 T Non-alcohol vanilla
- 1.5 t Cinnamon
- A pinch of sea salt
Thinly slice apples on a mandoline. Reserve apples pieces that are too small to slice and set aside. Put sliced apples in a big bowl. Squeeze lemon juice over apples and lightly toss. In a blender, blend reserved apple pieces, maple, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until creamy. Pour creamy mixture over sliced apples and lightly coat. Place apple filling into your prepared pie dish(es) and press down slightly.
5 to 8 Oatmeal Chunkie Dunkie Cookies, room temperature
Crumble cookies on top of apple pie. The more the yummier. Can be savored right away or placed in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
If you want your own Chunkie Dunkies, stop in Amici Market, Breakers News & Gourmet or check their website for all local listings. www.chunkiedunkies.com
Regardless of how stressful the holidays seem, there are things you can do to feel healthy and stay on track. If you do manage to fall off the health wagon, then just try to be kind to yourself and recognize that every day offers a new chance to rededicate yourself to living a full and vibrant Life. I sincerely hope you enjoy your holidays.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to tackle and “healthify” traditional mashed potatoes and eggnog. Both of these recipes are simple and would be fabulous additions to your holiday meal. You can find my recipes and many more at www.RecipeRedoBlog.com
Debra K’s 10 Best Swaps:
Late last year, it was determined I was testing sensitive to many foods. My doctor recommended a full detox eliminating dairy, gluten, corn, soy, peanuts and egg for five weeks. During this time, I became an expert at finding tasty swaps. Here are my top ten recommendations on some swaps to try in your recipes this season.
- Dairy milk – Unsweetened coconut or coconut almond blend
- Oil – In baked goods you can substitute with half the oil called for and replace the difference with fresh pureed apple
- Sugar – A mix of agave syrup and stevia
- Butter – Ghee or a vegan version such as Earth Balance
- For baked goods – A combination of gluten free flour and oat flour
- Salad dressing – Oil, vinegar and fresh minced herbs
- Soy Sauce – Coconut Aminos
- Mayonnaise –Soy Free Vegenaise®
- Thickener – Coconut flour
- Ice cream – Blend frozen banana, coconut milk, cherries and vanilla vegan protein powder (non-soy)
Meet Debra KExecutive Producer and Host, Journey into Wellbeing Owner, Well World, Inc. Owner, imassage, Inc. Author, Success from the Start
As the host of Journey into Wellbeing currently airing on PBS, Debra is one part Rachael Ray and one part Ellen DeGeneres. But beyond the approachable, engaging personality is the mind of a shrewd business executive and entrepreneur. Debra is a former Fortune 250 marketing and sales leader and founder of the wellness education company imassage. She is also a popular speaker within the health and wellness industry, and her expertise has been sought by national publications including Reuters, Newsweek, Spry Living and Woman’s Day. Debra’s goal is to inspire our nation’s health transformation and she invites you to join her.