Health & Fitness

By Alexis Lardieri

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During this time of year, it is easy to get off track with your diet. Before you know it, Thanksgiving leftovers are piling up at home and at work and your one day of cheating turned into a full week with another big holiday meal around the corner. This holiday season, tie the ribbon tighter with these delicious and health conscious recipes.

Butternut Squash Bisque with Coconut Essence

Full of beta-carotene and antioxidants, butternut squash, carrots, and celery stars as the highlight in this rich sensual dish. Instead of cream, I use unsweetened coconut milk and no butter, slashing the fat like a ninja. So good you’ll want to bathe in it! This makes a great first course for your holiday feast.

Serves 4

• 1 tablespoon Earth Balance Coconut Spread
• 2 carrots, washed with Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash, diced
• 2 celery stalks, washed with Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash, diced
• 1 small red onion, diced
• 4 cups cubed butternut squash, fresh or frozen
• 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
• 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (refrigerated)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 tsp fresh thyme

1) Heat coconut spread in a large soup pot. Add carrot, celery and onion. Cook until vegetables have begun to soften and onion turns translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
2) Stir in butternut squash, vegetable broth, coconut milk and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender to purée soup or let cool slightly and carefully purée in batches.
3) Take a squeeze bottle and fill with non-dairy yogurt. Squeeze a small circle on top of each individual soup bowl and add a pinch of fresh thyme.

Approx. 8 g fat, 260 calories per serving

Photo Credit – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Black Garlic and Turkey Bacon

Touted as one of the ‘healthiest foods on earth’ and my prediction for the next ‘It’ veggie of 2014, Brussels sprouts are the star of this flavorful dish, along with the rich essence of Black Garlic, prized for its antioxidants and health benefits, and the smoky crispness of turkey bacon, baked to reduce fat and calories, but still retain flavor. I use nitrite-free bacon to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. I also like to cook these in raw coconut oil, which has a higher smoking point than other oils and only use a tablespoon in the whole dish due to some help from low sodium veggie stock. I promise, this will make you fall in love with Brussels sprouts over and over again.

Approx 5 g fat, 230 calories per serving

Serves 4

• 1 tablespoon raw coconut oil
• 2 shallots, finely chopped
• 2 Cups fresh Brussels Sprouts, washed with Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
• ½ C low sodium vegetable stock
• 4 large cloves black garlic (it is very soft and will squeeze out of the skin. If unavailable, substitute 2 cloves regular garlic)
• 1 tsp Lo-Salt reduced sodium alternative
• 1 tsp white pepper
• 4 slices nitrite-free turkey bacon, crisped by baking in the oven in a baking rack for 15-20 minutes, then crumbled

1) Preheat oven to 425F.
2) In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and vegetable stock, season with Lo-Salt and white pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes; squeeze black garlic into stock and mix in with the back of a spoon. If black garlic is unavailable, substitute 2 cloves of regular garlic, minced.
3) Transfer skillet to oven and cook for 5-8 minutes or until sprouts take on a nice golden brown color. You may opt to broil for just a few minutes, taking care not to burn sprouts.
4) Remove skillet and top with crumbled turkey bacon. Serve and enjoy in good health!

Photo Credit – Fennel and Roasted Beet Salad with Chia Seed Vinaigrette

Roasting beets just intensifies their natural sweetness and adds a hint of caramel, so they’re wonderful with crunchy fennel and the slightly sweet dressing made from Nectresse no-calorie, all natural sweetener and chia seeds for a nutrient dense added pop and essential fats. Use both red and golden beets for beautiful color.

Serves 4

• 4 medium beets, washed with Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash
• 2 medium bulbs fennel, thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon Nectresse no-calorie, all natural sweetener
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp chia seed
• Lo-Salt reduced sodium alternative and a dash of white pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 375F and put a baking sheet on the middle rack to warm. Trim all but an inch or so off the beets’ stems. Put the beets on the baking sheet and roast until a knife easily pierces them all the way through, 30-45 minutes (depending on their size). Remove them to a plate to cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to scrape off the skins. Cut the peeled beets into thin slices.
2) Slice the fennel and combine the beets and fennel in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, Nectresse, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chia seeds and a sprinkling of Lo-Salt and white pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over the vegetables a little at a time until the salad is coated but not drenched. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Approx 5 g fat, 240 calories per serving

Photo Credit – Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

• 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
• ½ C rice milk
• 1 C low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
• 2 T Earth Balance Garlic & Herb Culinary Spread
• 5 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 T potato starch
• 2 T fresh parsley
• Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

1) Wash cauliflower with Eat Cleaner All Natural Fruit + Veg Wash.
2) Chop into small florets and steam until fork tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add to blender or food processor with rice milk and broth.
3) Add more liquid if too thick. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat Earth Balance spread over medium low eat and sauté garlic until translucent.
4) Add cauliflower puree and potato starch and wait for it to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Add parsley and seasonings to taste. Adjust thickness as desired.

Approx. 4g fat, 230 calories per serving

Photo Credit – The Fit Foodie’s Light Pumpkin Pie Squares

The average slice of pumpkin pie can weigh in at 350 calories and 13 grams of fat. My Fit Foodie version gets its body from light organic tofu weighing in at about half the calories and only about 3g of fat.


Serves 6

• 1/3 cup gluten-free old fashioned oats
• 8 low-fat gluten-free graham crackers (Try S’moreables, Graham Style Crackers)
• 1 egg white

• 18 ounces extra-firm organic tofu
• 2 cups canned (or cooked) pumpkin
• 1 cup nonfat non-dairy yogurt
• 2 Tbsp organic Stevia sweetener
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• (optional) 1 tsp cinnamon and REAL nondairy whipped topping

1) Preheat oven to 350°
2) To make crust: In a food processor, combine graham crackers and oats and process to a fine crumb. Add egg whites until well incorporated. In a 9”x9” non-stick baking pan, press crumb into bottom and bake for about 8 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven.
3) To make filling: Drain tofu and place in a food processor and process until smooth
4) Add remaining filling ingredients.
5) Process until well-blended.
6) Pour onto crust and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and chill in freezer until firm. Cut into squares and top with real non-dairy whipped topping and a dusting of cinnamon.

Approx. 6 g fat, 270 calories per serving

Originally published December 2013



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