In Search of Healthy Holiday Food


Photo by Carol Ann Sayle

Holiday meals can be downright punishing, especially to the digestive system! On the night we returned from a noonday family Thanksgiving dinner two hours away, all we ate was a plateful of kale and rapini, just to set us right. It was a correction for the indulgence of all things tan to brown.

There were mashed potatoes, rice dishes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, and canned green bean and onion ring casserole served with the pale turkey meat. All shades of brown were represented at the lunch. Even the orange-ish sweet potatoes--foregoing the "horses hoofs" (browned marshmallows) of former years--sported a topping of caramelized nuts and sugar.

Everything was tasty, but it was a shock to the system of two farmers who eat almost totally from our own vegetable fields every day, experiencing a rainbow of healthful colors, none of which is "processed."

I could feel the unsettling humming of the "sugar rush." Bring on the greens!

Few of us have time to cook these days. Why spend hours toiling in the kitchen, to make a meal that will be consumed in 30 minutes or less? So, with apologies, some guests brought dishes that came in boxes, and it takes a diligent eye to sort those out from the truly homemade. This is especially difficult when a pie comes in a box with a label on it that says "homemade," but then I noticed that the details of where it was "homemade" was not the address of any of the guests.

I ate a sliver of one of these desserts anyway, as it was coconut, my favorite pie. The lemon curd pie, made by a cousin, was delicious and rich. As was her chocolate meringue. Oh my. I could feel the unsettling humming of the "sugar rush." Bring on the greens!

Larry set our excessively green, farm-made offering at the end of the table. It was a spinach salad (the leaves picked that morning, by hand) topped with a grated beet and tiny triangular cuts of watermelon radishes. I dressed the salad with juice from our Meyer lemon trees and a wonderful olive oil from France, the gift from a friend who imports small producers' olive oils. Mary Beth tells me, "They are small farms, like yours!" and so I feel especially grateful to be able to use the precious results. She recommends this oil, "Moulin du Mas des Barres," for delicate fish, soft fresh cheese, or with fruit for dessert. Well, I did sprinkle some raw aged Feta cheese over the salad, and the Meyer lemon could qualify as fruit.

The salad was quite refreshing with the brown food. Several relatives, intrigued by the watermelon radishes, were pleased by the salad. But most avoided it.

Alas, next year, I'll try to tempt them again....