By Jami Scott
Holidays are such a great time of year, a chance to get together with friends and families and celebrate everything we’re thankful for. Sometimes it’s easy to get a bit too carried away with all the holiday foods and treats, so I thought I would provide some ideas of healthier options for your holiday meals.
I love dinner parties, and one of my favorite things to do is create a menu based on whole, plant-based foods that are just as tasty, a little bit unique, and don’t leave people feeling as full and heavy as the traditional meals. Plus, you may have some folks who are on alternative diets, like vegan or vegetarian, so it’s great to have options for them. These recipes will be sure to impress any of your guests and get them thinking about how tasty it is to make a few healthier choices during this holiday season.
Celebration Lentil Loaf
1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
3/4 cup bulgur wheat
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2/3 cup apple cider (non-alcoholic)
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Put lentils in a small saucepan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer until lentils are very tender, about 40 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Put bulgur in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer until bulgur is tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium skillet, combine mushrooms, onion, cider, poultry seasoning and salt. Cover and simmer over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Scrape into a bowl and fold in lentils, bulgur, oats, bell pepper and parsley.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Pack lentil mixture firmly into pan and smooth the top. Bake until edges brown slightly, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 25 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate. Remove parchment paper and let the loaf cool a few more minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut the loaf into 1-inch-thick slices.
Serve this recipe with vegan mushroom gravy (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/vegan-mushroom-gravy) and your favorite vegetable sides for an absolutely delicious, healthy holiday!
Jami Scott is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Healthy Eating Associate Coordinator for Whole Foods Market, Pacific Northwest region.