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Simple Changes Make Healthier Holiday Meals

Healthier Holiday TableIf I’m going to eat a lot of peppermint bark, I’m going to have to find other places to eat healthier foods this Christmas. It’s all about balance, right?

There are plenty of recipes with which you can reduce fat, sodium or calories and still get an excellent result without needing some type of cardiac intervention once the holidays are over.

I’m pleased to be part of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Healthier Holiday Table campaign to help us all find simple ways to eat better this season. You probably didn’t know that the ACS says maintaining a healthy weight can lead to a reduction of the risk of many types of cancer. Some things they think you should know:

  • Did you know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your cancer risk? The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Here are two resources filled with ideas for upping your fruit and vegetable consumption through the day.
  • Limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat. Some studies have linked eating large amounts of processed meat to increased risk of colorectal and stomach cancers.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products. Here are some innovative ways to add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your day while watching your refined carbohydrates, sugar, and fat intake.
  • Stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthy meals in a hurry. Keep these foods on hand for fast meals on busy nights.
  • Here are ideas on how to eat healthy and get active.

The American Cancer Society asked several of us to share our favorite family recipes and how we’ve changed them to make them healthier. I’ve shared one of our favorites, loved by my husband and I as well as the kids. It’s called Lime Chicken with Poblano Sour Cream Sauce, and it came from Fine Cooking magazine. I make the recipe exactly as called for with one minor change: instead of sour cream I use nonfat plain Greek yogurt. I promise you that you won’t be able to tell the difference, but you will have cut out a lot of fat by making the switch.

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lime chickenLime Chicken with Poblano Greek Yogurt Sauce

4 large poblano chiles
1 large lime
1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican Crema OR plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish (optional)
2 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 medium (5- to 6-oz.) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Position an oven rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler to high. Line the bottom of a broiler pan with foil and replace the perforated top part of the pan. Broil the poblanos, turning 3 times, until blackened, 12 to 15 min. total. Put the poblanos in a medium bowl, top with a dinner plate, and let stand for 5 min.

Meanwhile, cut the lime in half. Cut one half into wedges and squeeze the other half to get 2 tsp. juice. Measure the juice into a small bowl and stir in the sour cream or crema (or in our case the Greek yogurt) and the chopped cilantro.

Transfer the poblanos to a cutting board to cool a bit, then peel away the burned skin, discard the stems and seeds, and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Add to the sour cream mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.

In a small bowl, combine the 2 tsp. salt with the coriander, cumin, and pepper. Coat the chicken with the oil and season on both sides with the spice mixture. Put the chicken skin-side down on the broiler pan, and broil until well browned, 7 to 10 min. Turn the chicken over with tongs and continue to broil, checking frequently, until the chicken is dark brown and cooked through (an instantread thermometer should register at least 165°F), 4 to 6 min. more. If the chicken threatens to burn before it’s cooked through, move the pan to a lower rack.

Transfer the chicken to serving plates, spoon the poblano sour cream on the side, and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if using, and the lime wedges for squeezing over the chicken. Serve hot.

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To see some of the other recipes shared by my fellow parent bloggers, visit the More Birthdays campaign’s Healthier Holiday Table page on Facebook. If you have a favorite healthy holiday recipe, I encourage you to share it on American Cancer Society’s More Birthdays Facebook page using their Healthier Holiday Table tab as well.

Photo credit: FineCooking.com

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