(Family Features) For those who are always on the go leading up to the holidays, the season can feel more like madness than merrymaking. From planning get-togethers to building out a perfect menu for the events, there can be difficulties for hosts and guests alike to ensure proper nutrition is still top of mind.
Instead of sacrificing taste or eating less, aim for simple changes that give you the energy to power through the busy season. For example, instead of opting for a carb-loaded breakfast in the morning, try a low-carb Milk Chocolate Protein Muffin, which takes just a few minutes of prep and microwave time. The quick cook time leaves you with ample opportunities to run errands or divvy up precious seconds toward other activities, while the protein can fuel you for the day ahead.
Almost nothing beats warm soup on a chilly day, and this Butternut Squash and Pear Soup provides feel-good flavor without weighing you down. Finally, when snacks are on the mind – as it tends to happen when constantly on the go – Coconut Muesli Clusters are simple to make and won’t undo the nutritious efforts you’ve made throughout the day.
This full menu of tasty recipes is part of the Atkins low-carb lifestyle, a long-term, healthy eating approach focused on high-fiber carbohydrates, optimal protein and healthy fats. The plan also aims to reduce levels of refined carbohydrates, added sugars and the “hidden sugar effect,” – when carbohydrates convert to sugar when digested. You don’t see the sugar, but your body does.
An On-the-Go Energy Boost
As a hectic holiday season unfolds, it can be difficult to maintain energy while making dishes for get-togethers and keeping up with the festivities.
To stay fueled and energized throughout the season, try incorporating Atkins Plus Protein and Fiber Shakes. Sweet and creamy, they make for ideal snacks, containing 30 grams of high-quality dairy protein and 7 grams of fiber. To help ensure steady blood sugar levels, the shakes also have a low glycemic impact and are made with 20 vitamins and minerals.
Available in Creamy Milk Chocolate and Creamy Vanilla flavors, the ready-to-drink shakes provide hunger satisfaction for those who are on the go and seeking to maximize production with a busy schedule.
Find more ways to live healthier during the holidays and learn more about the benefits of a balanced, low-carb lifestyle at Atkins.com.
Milk Chocolate Protein Muffin
Recipe courtesy of Atkins
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 minute
- 2 tablespoons full-fat cream cheese
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons Atkins Milk Chocolate Protein Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 dash salt
- In microwave-safe mug, heat cream cheese 10-15 seconds to soften. Add egg and blend briskly using fork. Add protein powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; blend until smooth.
- Microwave on high 1 minute; muffin will puff up then deflate slightly once done. Remove from mug and enjoy warm.
Coconut Muesli Clusters
Recipe courtesy of “Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less”
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
- Olive oil spray
- 1 cup plain protein powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup whole raw pecans
- 1 cup unsweetened whole flake shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chia seeds or ground flaxseeds
- 1 tablespoon stevia
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup water
- Heat oven to 350° F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper, coat with olive oil spray and set aside.
- In large bowl, mix together protein powder, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pecans, coconut, chia seeds or flaxseeds, stevia, cinnamon and turmeric.
- In large skillet, combine coconut oil, peanut butter and vanilla extract; melt completely then stir in nut mixture. Turn heat off and add eggs and water, tossing well. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and spread mixture in layer about 1/2-inch thick.
- Bake 10-15 minutes until mixture starts to brown and clumps together to make clusters. Cool completely on baking sheet then store in airtight container, refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Recipe courtesy of Atkins
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium (2 1/2-inch diameter) onion, chopped
- 2 pounds butternut winter squash, cubed
- 1 medium pear, sliced, plus additional, for garnish (optional)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- nutmeg (optional)
- In large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add squash, pear, curry powder, salt and white pepper; saute 3 minutes.
- Increase heat to high and add chicken broth. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low; simmer 20-25 minutes, uncovered, until cubed squash is very tender. Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes.
- In blender or food processor, puree soup in batches until smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and add lemon juice and heavy cream. Stir soup over low heat until hot. Garnish with additional sliced pears and sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, Milk Chocolate Protein Muffin)
(Family Features) Amazing food is the centerpiece of most holiday gatherings. This Easter, impress guests with your culinary talent by making simple dishes simply amazing. With a little special attention, even the most basic foods can evolve into dishes worth sharing with loved ones.
Most chefs agree that spices and seasonings are essential elements of your kitchen arsenal. This Easter, give your spread a boost with spices and herbs of the highest quality, such as those from Spice Islands, which crafts and packages spices and herbs from around the world to deliver the most authentic and intense flavor possible.
With its rich hue and warm aroma, cinnamon can bring spicy sweetness to all kinds of baked goods. However, all cinnamon is not the same. There are two main varieties of cinnamon, Indonesian and Vietnamese.
Vietnamese, which is used in the Spice Islands Saigon Cinnamon featured in these recipes, tends to have a brighter, spicy taste. The forests of Vietnam are known for their premium cinnamon. High in volatile oils, the Vietnamese cinnamon trees produce a deep, reddish-brown cinnamon with an intense fragrance and sweet, red-hot-candy-like flavor.
Update your traditional ham with a spicy, honeyed glaze; give a side serving of carrots a tasty twist and end the affair on a sweet note with a rustic, utterly delicious dessert. Find more flavorful ideas to elevate your Easter menu at spiceislands.com.
Spiced Honey and Black Pepper-Glazed Ham
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
- 8-10 pounds cooked shank-end ham
- water (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Spice Islands Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Spice Islands Ground Mustard
- 1 tablespoon Spice Islands Garlic Powder
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Spice Islands Ground Saigon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Ground Cloves
- Heat oven to 325° F.
- With sharp knife, score ham at 1-inch intervals; place in baking dish. If ham appears dry, moisten surface with water. In small bowl, combine black pepper, mustard and garlic powder. Rub pepper mixture over surface of ham. Roast according to package directions.
- Combine honey, cinnamon and cloves. Drizzle over ham during last 30 minutes of roasting. Remove ham from oven and let rest 20 minutes before slicing.
Spiced Maple Carrots
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 pound (4 cups) baby carrots
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands Ground Saigon Cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon Spice Islands Ground Ginger
- 2 tablespoons Maple Grove Farms 100% Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter
- sea salt, to taste
- In large skillet, combine carrots, water, cinnamon and ginger. Mix well. Cover and cook on high 6 minutes until almost tender.
- Add maple syrup and butter. Mix well and continue to cook, uncovered, 2-3 minutes, until carrots are well-glazed. Season, to taste, with sea salt.
Anise, Pear and Almond Crostata
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 stick butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen
- 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Fine Mediterranean Sea Salt
- 1/4 cup ice water
Anise Almond Filling:
- 1 cup blanched, slivered almonds
- 3/4 teaspoon Spice Islands Anise Seeds
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 teaspoon Spice Islands Fine Mediterranean Sea Salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 3 Fiorelle or small pears, sliced into thin wedges
- 2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons Polaner Apricot Preserves, heated
- cream or ice cream (optional)
- To make crust: In food processor, combine flour, frozen butter and salt. Pulse until dough is size of large peas. Add 3 tablespoons ice water and pulse several times. Pinch dough to see if it is holding together; if not, add water a couple of teaspoons at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition, until dough holds together. Form dough into disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- To make filling: In food processor, blend almonds, anise seeds, sugar, egg, vanilla and salt until paste forms. Add room temperature butter and blend again. Set aside.
- Toss sliced pears with 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.
- On sheet of floured parchment paper, roll out dough into 13-inch circle; transfer on parchment to rimless cookie sheet.
- Spread almond paste onto circle, leaving 2-inch border. Scatter pears on top, covering almond paste. Fold dough up and over pears, overlapping dough as needed. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle crust generously with extra sugar.
- Bake until pears are tender, 40-45 minutes. If crust starts to get too brown, lightly cover with foil. Remove tart from oven and brush pears with heated apricot preserves. Serve with cream or ice cream, if desired.
Source: Spice Islands
America’s Top Chefs Share Their Favorite Recipes
(Family Features) Want to add taste, color and crunch to salads any time of the year? Then sprinkle on pistachios. Chefs are going nutty over them, and for good reason. California grown, these pale green nuts have a subtle, delicate flavor that is wonderful in sweet as well as savory dishes or for eating out of hand. Traditionally used in rice dishes, stuffing, ice cream and pastries, pistachios are now a key ingredient in signature salads.
Pistachio Facts & Helpful Tips
The key to including nuts in the diet without adding extra calories is portion control. Use pistachios on salads, or in main dishes, to replace meat or poultry. California pistachios have versatility, texture and great taste. They also pack a powerful nutritional punch. A 1-ounce serving — 49 pistachios — contains more than 10 percent of the Daily Value for dietary fiber, vitamin B-6, thiamin, phosphorus and copper. One serving of pistachios has as much potassium as half a large banana. Pistachios contain mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (11 of 13 fat grams), the types of fat recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines For Americans. Pistachios also are naturally cholesterol free and trans fat free.
Other Pistachio Facts:
- A serving of pistachios has more fiber (2.9g) than 1 small tomato (1.1g) or 1 cup of raw spinach (.8g).
- A serving of pistachios provides almost 1 1/2 times the amount of thiamin as 1/2 cup serving of cooked, long grain, enriched white rice and 2 1/2 times the amount of thiamin in long grain, brown rice.
- The amount of vitamin B-6 in a 1-ounce serving of pistachios is comparable to that in a standard 3-ounce serving of roasted pork loin, 2 times that in a serving of peanut butter and 5 times that in a serving of black beans.
- Pistachios contain more phytosterols such as beta-sitosterol than any other commonly eaten nut, 61mg per serving or 279mg per 100g. Phytosterols may help lower cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Preliminary research suggests phytosterols also may offer protection from certain types of cancer.
- The largest USDA study of food antioxidants reveals pistachios are one of the best sources of beta-carotene of all tree nuts and peanuts. Pistachios also provide the most lutein and zeaxanthin of all tree nuts. Antioxidants are compounds in foods that may help fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and help maintain healthy arteries.
To Make Pistachio Oil:
Toast 1 cup pistachio kernels. When cool, finely grind in food processor. In a saucepan, warm 1 1/2 cups olive oil and ground pistachios and stir until blended. Transfer to a jar and let stand overnight at room temperature. Strain. Substitute in place of olive oil to add flavor to any recipe.
Harvest Salad with Caramelized California Pistachios and Green Apples
Chef Andrew Carmellini of A Voce Restaurant in New York celebrates the bounty of the harvest with this delicious — yet simple — salad featuring crisp green apples and caramelized California pistachios.
- 4 cups arugula, picked and washed
- 2 cups watercress, picked and washed
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced in half lengthwise then thinly sliced
- 1 cored green apple, thinly sliced
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 4 leaves basil, washed and coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons white raisins, soaked in warm water and drained
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 whole lemons, zested then juiced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup California pistachios, caramelized
- Combine all ingredients except cheese and breadcrumbs in mixing bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Divide into 6 salad bowls; top with cheese, breadcrumbs and caramelized pistachios (see sidebar for caramelizing). Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Nutritional Analysis (Amount per Serving): Calories 250, Total Fat 16g, Saturated Fat 2.5g, Monounsaturated Fat 10g, Cholesterol less than 5mg, Sodium 610mg, Potassium 530mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Dietary Fiber 5g, Protein 6g
Goat Cheese, Beet Roots and California Pistachio Salad
Executive Chef Pascal LeSeac’h of Pastis, one of New York City’s hottest restaurants, loves serving this simple beet salad featuring California pistachios.
- 5 medium size beet roots
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup California pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch flat parsley (1⁄4 cup chopped)
- 1 log (6 ounces) Montrachet goat cheese
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Preheat oven: 375°F.
- Clean beet roots with cold water, dry with paper towel, coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt. Wrap beets in aluminum foil and place in oven 1 1/2 hours. Check doneness by poking with small knife. Remove and peel beets and slice 1/2-inch thick. Reserve and cool in refrigerator. While beets are cooling, toast pistachios, let cool, then chop.
- Clean and dry parsley, then chop with large chef knife. Slice goat cheese 1/2-inch thick.
- To Serve: Alternate slices of beets and goat cheese on salad plate. Season with salt and white pepper. Add vinegar and remaining olive oil. Garnish with pistachios and chopped parsley. Serves 2.
Nutritional Analysis (Amount per Serving): Calories 380, Total Fat 33g, Saturated Fat 9g, Monounsaturated Fat 19g, Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 310mg, Potassium 450mg, Carbohydrate 13g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Protein 11g
Spicy Pear and Endive Salad with California Pistachios
Nationally-renowned celebrity chefs and “Too Hot Tamales” Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger offer this scrumptious salad featuring California pistachios from their award-winning Border Grill and Ciudad restaurants.
- 1/2 cup California pistachios, raw and shelled
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 Comice or D’anjou pears, quartered, cored, and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
- 4 heads Belgian endive, cored and sliced lengthwise into strips
- 1/2 to 3⁄4 cup Cabrales blue cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños, sliced
- 1/4 cup Honey Chipotle Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- In small frying pan, combine pistachios, salt, pepper and sugar. Sauté over low to medium heat, stirring and shaking frequently until pistachios are toasted and sugar caramelizes and coats pistachios. Transfer pistachios to non-stick or parchment-lined cookie sheet and allow to cool. In large bowl, combine pears, endive, blue cheese, jalapeños and vinaigrette.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to 4 chilled salad plates and sprinkle with pistachios. Serves 4.
Honey Chipotle Vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 dry chipotle, stemmed and seeded
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey, warm
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Combine vinegar and chipotle in small saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and oil is emulsified. Adjust seasonings to taste. Makes 1 cup.
Nutritional Analysis (Amount per Serving): Calories 310, Total Fat 20g, Saturated Fat 5g, Monounsaturated Fat 10g, Cholesterol 15mg, Sodium 640mg, Potassium 500mg, Carbohydrate 30g, Dietary Fiber 6g, Protein 8g
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup California pistachio kernels
- In a medium saucepan, heat sugar with water, salt and cayenne pepper over a high flame. Cook until mixture is soft and bubbling. Add pistachios and stir 2 to 4 minutes, until caramelized (pistachios may clump together). Remove pistachios from pan and lay on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. When pistachios are completely cool, break apart and reserve.
Source: California Pistachio Commission