It’s OK to let yourself indulge a little this time of year. The best part about the holidays is family, friends and… food. I can’t imagine how boring a holiday party would be without delicious eats and festive cocktails. And enjoying good food in the company of good friends is healthier than eating a salad by yourself at home in front of the TV.
But (and this is a big but) don’t be tempted to bring home the leftover cheese platter and pecan pie, even with Mom insisting.
To maintain your healthy lifestyle throughout the holiday season it’s important to eat fresh and light at home. Soups, salads, baked fish and roasted veggies are all great choices. They’ll balance out all the festive eating and drinking, and getting plenty of veggies this time of year is especially important to keep your immune system strong and your waistline in check.
When the weather is cold and rainy (as it so often is this time of year in Portland), I don’t crave salads. But I know that a salad is sometimes just what I need to recover from a night out. I’ve discovered that if I top my salad with warm roasted veggies, I get both my raw- and cooked-veggie fix together. Plus, a warm salad is so much more appealing. The key to a winter salad is to use a hearty green like arugula or spinach; leave the romaine lettuce for light summer salads.
I made an amazing winter salad the other night with leftover roasted butternut squash. I added it atop my usual favorite combo of arugula, walnuts and Parmesan, then added pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of hummus dressing. It was so good!
Butternut can be difficult to chop. I recommend heating the entire squash in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes so that it’s easier to get a knife through it. Or buy your butternut already cut (I promise I won’t tell). Just don’t use frozen butternut. After cooking it will have the consistency of baby food.
Roasted Butternut and Leek Warm Winter Salad
Yield: 2 dinner-sized salads
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 leek, washed, green ends removed, half moon slices
- 1 bag arugula
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- olive oil
- dried thyme
- sea salt & fresh ground pepper
- ¼ cup hummus (homemade or store-bought)
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- 2 T olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the butternut cubes and sliced leek in a mixing bowl and toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.
Spread out butternut and leek on a baking sheet and bake in center of oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, toss with a spatula and return to oven for an additional 15 – 20 minutes or until the butternut just begins to brown.
Whisk together the hummus (here is Darya’s hummus recipe), apple cider vinegar and olive oil.
Place a couple handfuls of arugula on each salad plate. Top with the roasted butternut, walnuts or pumpkin seeds, Parmesan and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle lightly with the dressing.
Serve warm. Store the leftover dressing and butternut in the fridge.
Elyse Kopecky is a social media consultant and whole foods chef based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS she left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at freshabits.com and @freshabits.