We are not talking about fruit cake here, but rather colorful, fresh fruit as ingredients with top billing in so many holiday recipes, including dessert. Think of all the colors of apples, pears, cranberries, pomegranates, pumpkin, oranges, even nuts that can offer flavor and interest to your holiday menus.
Fruits and nuts add deliciously a bit of nutrition and subtle sweetness to lots of recipes, even savory foods like meats. Their bright colors add to the festive brilliance of the holiday season. Plan your holiday menus with fruit and nuts in mind.
Including fruit in your menu or recipes provides an opportunity to increase nutritional value by adding Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and in the case of walnuts, omega-3 fatty acids.
There are times during the holidays when you feel like enjoying a traditional meal or recipe and giving yourself a break from being careful. It is how you eat daily that determines your future health.
5 Ideas for Including Fruit in Your Holiday Menus
(1) Spinach Orange Salad.
Simple, super healthy. On individual salad plates or in a bowl. Combine baby spinach with fresh orange wedges. Garnish with thin slices of red onion or chopped pecans. Garnish with pomegranate arils. Lightly dress with a slightly sweet vinaigrette. Mandarin oranges make a quicker salad but offer less Vitamin C than fresh wedges.
(2) Pork Roast with Apples.
Fresh chunky warm applesauce makes a wonderful addition to pork in any form including ham. Instead of apple sauce, sauté apple wedges in a little butter and simmer in apple juice or cider to soften. Leave skin on the apples for color and fiber.
(3) Fresh Cranberry Sauce.
Simple and quick. Wash berries. Bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add one 12-ounce bag of fresh berries (rinsed) with 3/4 cup of sugar. Cook mixture at a simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes or until berries have popped. Chill sauce to serve.
(4) Apple-Cranberry Stuffing.
Spice up a stuffing mix with apples and dried cranberries or make your stuffing from scratch. Either way, your stuffing will be a standout.
Pomegranate “arils” provide a jewel like garnish to salads, sauces, cheese boards, frosting.
Freeing the arils is a bit tricky but less expensive than purchasing them already removed. To “free” the tiny red seeds called “arils” from the pomegranate, cut the top off about 1/2 inch from the crown. Slice the skin(rind) along the white membrane dividing each section. Avoid cutting into the arils. Pull the sections apart over a bowl of cool water. Lay the sections in the water. Gently pry the arils loose with your thumbs. The arils will sink to the bottom. Scoop away the pith and drain the water. Enjoy!
Recipe: Tart Tatin
First of all, this recipe is not meant to be low calorie or particularly nutrient dense. It is made of apples but includes butter and sugar. If you have diabetes, you will need to carefully consider how you will manage your blood sugar and what else you plan to eat.
One of my favorite desserts to share with holidays meals is a Tart Tatin, a classic French apple tart from small town of Lamotte-Beuvon, near Paris. The tart originated in the inn kitchen of two sisters, Caroline and Stephanie Tatin. Their recipe has endured since the beginning of the 1900’s as has the sisters’ inn. To this day, their inn prepares and serves Tart Tatin. This delicious, simple dessert, which shares the apples of Normandy, is on menus all over France.
I recommend using a 9-inch cast iron skillet as you will need a skillet you can use on your cooktop as well as in the oven. Note: Everyone should have a couple of cast iron skillet sizes in their kitchen. If you don’t have one, this recipe is an opportunity to treat yourself. Cast iron is a bargain relative to other cookware. I promise you will love it for its even cooking and heat retention.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 Gala apples
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of half a lemon
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm), thawed in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Melt butter in a 9-inch skillet that can go in the oven as well as sit on the cooktop. Swirl butter around the skillet to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Set skillet aside.
- Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 wedges. Place in a large mixing bowl. Pour melted butter over apples. Toss in sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Arrange apples in skillet to form a circular design.
- Unfold pastry sheet and place on top of the apples. Slice excess pastry away from the edge. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Place skillet on cooktop over low heat and simmer off accumulated juices. Do not allow it to burn. The juice turns a nice caramel color.
- Allow to cool slightly, about 20-25 minutes. Turn skillet upside down on a heatproof serving dish.
- Serve tart hot or cold with vanilla ice cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream.
**Servings: 6 to 8
Written by: Mimi Cunningham, MA, RDN, CDCES
Mimi is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and diabetes care specialist helping people learn to manage their diabetes and achieve good health. She believes food definitely is good culinary medicine.