Bring us some figgy pudding!
By Sarah Terry
So it's that time of year again... holiday season is upon us! Personally, Halloween is my favorite holiday, but I'm also a dedicated caroler and mulled cider aficionado, and those are just two of the many reasons I'm excited for the coming winter months. Holidays mean food, family, friends! Food again! And with that in mind, what better time to talk about our Foodworks program? With generous help from Hannaford grocery store, I've been working on a whole slate of upcoming events, including one all about healthy food for the holidays!
Now, healthy eating during the holidays can seem pretty much impossible. I come from a big family that has a habit of making enough food to feed the entire block, and still have enough for leftovers the next day. I mean, I can remember Thanksgivings where we had a turkey, a ham, stuffed shells, and still made mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, the works! And that was before I became vegetarian, so now I always make a vegetarian entree too! I'm surprised our table didn't sag in the middle! Plus, family parties are only the start throw in cookies swaps, and office parties, treats for school... it feels like you're navigating a mine field full of gravy boats and candy canes! But there are actually a lot of small choices you can make that will help you have a healthier holiday (or at least a healthierthan-eating-an-entire-bowl-of-mashed-potatoes holiday, as I may have done once or twice...). One of my favorites? Bring a healthy, delicious dish for everyone to enjoy!
Holiday desserts aren't usually the pinnacle of health food. So many cakes and pies and cookies and candies! You definitely don't have to resist every pie, but you can bring some awesome desserts to your next holiday party that won't make you feel like falling into a food coma after dinner!
For the Healthy Holidays Foodworks program, our dessert of choice is...
Meringues are tasty, simple, fun, and nearly fat free! Now, there are actually two versions of meringues that I'm going to talk about – one traditional and one not-so-traditional. The traditional version is made with egg whites. These are beaten until they form a stiff foam, then sugar and flavorings are mixed in, they're piped out, then finally baked at a low temperature for several hours. These guys are less than half the calories of a chocolate chip cookie! Awesome, right?
Here's a Hannaford recipe for raspberry flavored meringues!
What about the not-so-traditional way? I love to experiment with food, and fairly recently, I came across something called aquafaba. What exactly is aquafaba, you ask? Have you ever bought a can of chickpeas? As a person who occasionally subsists on hummus alone, I can tell you that I go through a ton of them! Well, aquafaba is the liquid in the can that you usually drain and throw away! Little did I know that I should have been saving it! You can actually treat aquafaba just like egg whites – put it in a mixing bowl, whip it with a hand mixer, and you'll soon get beautiful foamy peaks, just like you would with eggs! This version of the recipe is cool because it's also vegan! If you're ever searching for something to make when the crowd has a lot of dietary restrictions, this recipe is perfect, because it's egg-free, dairy free, nut-free, soy free, AND gluten-free.
Does it come out as good as the traditional version? Just take a look at this photograph I took when I first tried out the recipe! Waiting for them to finally come out of the oven is definitely the hardest part...
They were delicious and my family couldn't even tell the difference between these guys and the egg-version!
Here's the recipe I used – these are plain vanilla meringues but you can add all kinds of flavorings! When I made these, I substituted mint extract for vanilla extract and added some vegan chocolate chips, and that's only one possibility! Either version is a healthy, tasty treat that would be a welcome addition to any dessert table!
Now... ready, set, BAKE! (and please tell me I'm not the only one obsessed with the Great British Bake Off!) Let us know if you take a shot at these recipes, or share some of your own healthy holiday tips with us!
Most importantly, have a lovely, family-and-friends-filled holiday season!