Olive You! Easy Holiday Recipes and Entertaining Inspiration

As the holidays approach, I think fondly of all those who are near and dear – and also my loved ones further away. And, of course, the readers of my blog and friends and supporters on social media are on my mind and heart, what would I do without you all! I just want to let you know that it would be the total PITS without you . . .  OLIVE YOU! Because OLIVE YOU so much (bear with the puns please), I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to use olives in holiday recipes.

Olive You

First, it’s cocktail hour. Might I suggest skewering up a salty olive to complement a sweet drink – you’d be surprised at how well the combination goes. Because I fall on my face easily enough sober, I typically limit myself to ½ a drink. With just one “mini” drink, I can still wake up refreshed for the fiercest workouts and morning to-do lists, but can still enjoy a little taste of fa-la-la libations.

Cranberry Martini with Mezzetta Olive

Here, I’ve added a Mezzetta Olive to a Mini Cranberry Martini – it’s a tablespoon each of vodka and cranberry juice along with a splash of lime juice – and cranberries for garnish.

Mezzetta Olives for a Cheese Board

Holiday Olive TrayNo cocktail party would be complete without an olive tray and cheese board filled with delicious noshes –  olives, aged cheeses, seasonal fruit, artisan crackers and an array of almonds. It’s simple yet sophisticated as a focal “snack” for your festivities and also makes a lovely prelude to any holiday meal and creates an abundance of Mezzetta Memories.

 

Pasta with Blue Cheese OlivesSpeaking of holiday meals, think of all those busy-night dinners leading up to and after the BIG DAY where a huge roast or bird isn’t on the menu – yet you have a house full of folks who have worked up quite the appetite shopping, wrapping, visiting, caroling, baking or being on hall-decking detail. My recipe for Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives is the easiest, most amazing holiday meal that comes together practically in the wink of an eye – or as long as it takes to cook pasta al dente. If you’re making it after Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or whatever your holiday celebration may be, feel free to toss in any leftover main course protein such as beef tenderloin, pork roast or turkey breast!

Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives Recipe

  • 8 ounces uncoooked whole grain pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Mezzetta Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives, halved crosswise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 12 ounces pre-cooked protein leftovers, like chicken, turkey, roast beef
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat up olive oil in large skillet and saute garlic and red pepper flakes for approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add olives and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes until warmed.
  4. Toss with noodles optional protein leftovers (warmed) and a little extra olive oil, if needed. Season with salt to taste. Stir in blue cheese while still warm.
  5. Serves 4.

 

 

 

Pasta with Mezetta Blue Cheese OlivesBeing able to make a speedy yet special recipe like Pasta with Blue Cheese Olives which uses extraordinary ingredients I wouldn’t necessarily use every day (including gourmet olives, bold blue cheese and sun-dried tomatoes) frees up my time to make more meaningful Christmas memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime. Plus, I appreciate the fact that Mezzetta, a fourth generation family-owned company, also values holiday tradition, family and providing the highest quality olives available from the sun-drenched soils of California, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece. I like to keep quite a few varieties of Mezzetta olives stocked in my pantry for impromptu salads, pizzas, pastas, snacks and more — inspiration is just a twist away!

Mezzetta MemoriesPlease visit Mezzetta to find daily inspiration and enter the Holiday Memories Sweepstakes for a chance to win the holiday memories sharing pack. One winner will receive an Instant Print Digital Camera plus an Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket and ten others will receive the Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket – I have one, it’s fabulous! Expires Dec. 31, 2015 – enter here.

What are your favorite holiday memories that involve gathering friends and family around good food? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Baked Gingerbread Protein Donuts with Lemon Glaze {Gluten Free} #AlohaMoment

This blog is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Aloha, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #myAloha and #AlohaMoment  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

With the holiday season in full swing AND my plan to carbo-load for the Dallas Marathon (which was on Sunday, that’s another story for another day), I broke out of my normal eating routine last week to indulge in some scrumptious baked goods! Even though I had Christmas cookies and a big bun with my burger, I was mindful of not eating a ton of low-quality carb crap.

Dallas Marathon 2014 - TheFitFork.com

Despite the marathon carbohydrate mission, I wanted to keep balance in breakfast. My days are just much more productive when I’ve started off with enough protein. One trick I rely on to up my intake is to sneak protein powder into recipes for pancakes, muffins, quick breads and such. My favorite recipe coming out of the oven this week was a batch of Baked Gingerbread Protein Donuts with Lemon Icing – and these little delights are gluten-free and paleo-friendly and actually low-carb enough for me (and hopefully you) to enjoy any day!

Baked Gingerbread Protein Donuts with Lemon Glaze - Paleo & Gluten Free - TheFitFork.com

You will not believe the delicious homemade seasonal scent that wafts through the house as these donuts bake. Am I tempting you yet? Keep reading for the recipe!

Aloha Premium Protein Powder - TheFitFork.com

Yup, I stirred Aloha Premium Protein Powder right into the batter (and even icing) for these delicious baked donuts. Aloha comes either in a big tub or packets – I like the pre-portioned packets for convenience and each one features 18 grams of plant-based protein along with vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. Perfect for vegetarians, vegans and everyone, this great-tasting product (which comes in chocolate and vanilla) helps ensure that you’re getting the complete chain of amino acids. Plus, there are no artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, animal products, fillers or chemicals of any kind. Gluten-Free Baked Gingerbread Donuts - TheFitFork

I also want to mention that my donut recipe below is also gluten-free and fits in with a Paleo style diet – made with protein powder along with almond meal, stevia and other healthy ingredients, these donuts not only taste good but will keep you feeling good.

Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Lemon Glaze Recipe

Ingredients for donuts:

  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup gluten-free baking blend
  • 2 packets Aloha vanilla protein powder (reserve 1 Tablespoon for icing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon stevia powder (1:2 stevia to sugar ratio)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon coconut butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Aloha vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon stevia powder (1:2 stevia to sugar ratio)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In medium bowl, mix together almond meal, gluten-free baking blend, protein powder (2 packets minus 1 tablespoon), baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and stevia power,  making sure there are no clumps.
  3. In another bowl whisk together eggs; whisk in molasses, coconut oil and vanilla. Mix together these wet ingredients with dry ingredients until well-combined, but not over-stirred.
  4. Spoon batter (or use piping bag) into 12-count mini donut pan, filling approximately 2/3 full.  Bake in 350 F degree oven for approximately 12 minutes, or until turning golden brown.
  5. Remove donuts to baking rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together coconut milk, coconut butter, remaining 1 tablespoon protein powder, lemon juice and stevia. Drizzle over cooled donuts and sprinkle with lemon zest.
  7. Makes 12 mini donuts.
Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Blend together one packet Aloha Protein Powder with 12 oz. almond milk, 1/2 cup frozen berries and ice, as needed.

Also as a clean-eating, fitness enthusiast, I enjoy a smoothie or recovery shake made with protein powder for my morning meal or recovery. But, I can be picky about texture, taste and macros when it comes to supplementation.  A chocolate berry smoothie made with Aloha Premium Protein Powder is one of my go-to beverages after an intense workout during warmer weather (I aim for between 10 – 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes to assist with muscle recovery). But, it’s also smart to start off the day with protein, so I often mix Aloha into a hot morning drink, in nut butter, or in all types of batter – like with the Baked Gingerbread Protein Donut recipe above!

If you’d like to sample Aloha Premium Protein Powder (while supplies last), check out their free 14 days trial (a monthly subscription, but no-hassle to cancel if not right for you). You can also follow them on Facebook (Aloha), Twitter (@aloha), Pinterest (@alohamoment) , or Instagram (@alohamoment).

What is your favorite way to use protein powder?

Cranberry Recipes for Thanksgiving Feasts + Health Benefits

Check out What's Thanksgiving Without Cranberries?!

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com

This post is sponsored by Foodie.com.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without cranberries on the table and I’m happy to be sharing a collection of cranberry recipes I put together for Foodie.com – you’ll find healthy cranberry recipes for Thanksgiving and the remainder of the holiday season.

12 Healthy Cranberry Recipes for the Holidays - thefitfork.com

If you’ve wondered why we mainly eat cranberries in the fall, it’s because they are in season October, November and December – the primary holiday meal making months! However, this sweet-tart berry has so many health benefits that I like to eat them year round.  Many of these health benefits are attributed to the phytochemicals known as proanthocyandidins found in cranberries – this compound in cranberries inhibit bacteria from adhering and multiplying in the body – that’s why drinking cranberry juice is a natural remedy for urinary tract infections. Cranberries may lower incidence of cancer; studies show polyphenolic extracts from cranberries diminish the growth of prostate, lung and esophageal tumor cells – cranberries have the highest level of this powerful antioxidant than 20 fruits and vegetables tested. As an athlete, cranberries are also a great source of natural carbohydrates to fuel workouts. Health Benefits of Cranberries - thefitfork.com

So, how can you enjoy cranberries year round when the store shelves are cleared out at the New Year? You can freeze fresh cranberries to use later in sauce, relish and other recipes. If you’re in a hurry, simply place original packing inside a heavy duty freezer bag and freeze for up to one year. If you have more time, I’d suggest rinsing and drying the cranberries and then freezing in a single layer on a baking sheet before placing in an airtight container. This allows you to grab a handful at a time without the berries being clumped together.

Do you have a favorite cranberry recipe? Please share!

Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish & #StackandSnap Food Processor #Giveaway

This post and giveaway are sponsored by Hamilton Beach. While they provided products for review, all opinions, editorial comments and recipes are my own.

Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish - TheFitFork.com

Looking for an easy, healthy holiday side dish you can make CHOP, CHOP?! My recipe for Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish is a real winner that beats that nasty canned jelly stuff with a wallop of fresh, zingy flavor. Versions of this recipe have been served at my family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for as long as I can remember – while Grandma used to dump in a cup of granulated sugar, I keep it lower carb by using Stevia instead.

Cranberries Oranges and Ginger - TheFitFork.com

Can you believe there are only four (FOUR!) ingredients in this simple recipe and it can be whipped up in two minutes or less with the help of a food processor. Seriously, all you do is wash the fruit, quarter the orange (leave skin on!) and peel the ginger, throw all the healthy ingredients along with a touch of Stevia (or you could use honey) into the food processor and pulse for about a minute. Viola, you’re done – it’ tastes even better the next day and can be used as a side salad, relish for lean proteins, topping for yogurt, or as a way to add some seasonal razzamatazz to your turkey sandwich or roast beef wrap. And, for those of you with dietary concerns, this fruit recipe is sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and appropriate for Paleo, vegetarian, vegan and raw diets.

Hamilton Beach Stack and Chop Food Processor -and recipe from TheFitFork.com

I was so excited to receive a brand spanking new Stack and Snap™ 10 Cup Food Processor from Hamilton Beach just in time for the holidays. My old one is almost 24 years old (wedding gift) and a pain in the butt to use – although, back then it was AWESOME! Today my new awesome is this good-looking Stack and Snap™ processor – it’s super easy to use thanks to a simple function guide that shows you which blade to use and which button to press. Another thing I appreciated right out of the box is that everything assembles with ease — there’s no twisting, turning or locking required when assembling the food processor. Uh, I hated using my old one because I could never remember how to put it together. I would have to holler for my husband to come into the kitchen to fix it because it was “broken.” Hey, don’t judge – I do all the cooking, he should make himself useful in the kitchen too!

Cranberry Relish in Food Processor - TheFitForkWith a powerful 450 Watt motor, this healthy-food-making bad boy can chop, slice, shred, mix and puree in no time, making my recipe prep time nearly non-existant. The Stack and Snap™ 10 Cup Food Processor is also leak-proof, has a lock-down blade that won’t fall out when pouring and a Big Mouth® feed tube that can handle many whole-sized food (less pre-chopping by me)! Oh, and clean up’s a breeze, the parts (except for the base) are dishwasher safe.  So, you know it – I’m giving one away! Enter via the Rafflecopter app at the end of the recipe. 

 

Raw Cranberry Orange Ginger Relish Recipe

  • 1 lb. package fresh cranberries
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 2-inch chunk of ginger root, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons powdered Stevia
  1. Rinse cranberries and drain in colendar.
  2. Wash and quarter orange, remove any seeds but leave peel on.
  3. Peel ginger with paring knife and cut into chunks.
  4. Place all ingredients in work bowl of processor and pulse intermittently for one minute, or until coarsely chopped.
  5. Serves 6 – 8.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - bourbon cranberry apricot pecan relishIf you’re looking for another cranberry relish idea, check out this Bourbon Apricot Pecan Cranberry Relish recipe I did for last year’s feast. It is also sugar-free, but has a more syrupy, cooked on the stove top taste.

 

 

 

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Splurge-worthy! Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie #Recipe

jennifer fisher thefitfork best chocolate chip cookieDisclaimer: Butter and sugar were used in the making of these cookies, it’s not your typical recipe at The Fit Fork! But, when friends and family who are dear to me, gather near to me during the holidays, I loosen up the reigns a little. Trust me, these cookies taste as insanely delicious as they look – actually even better! The mischief-makers merry-makers at my house have voted them the best darn chocolate chip cookies EVER! You’ll need to to log some extra miles to earn a couple of these indulgent cookies . . . .or, just relax and enjoy some well-earned splurges of the season.

jennifer fisher chocolate chip cookies santa snacks

While I try to eat healthfully most of the time, I can’t say no to a treat every now and then – and especially around Christmas. I tried to give up chocolate once, but I’m no quitter! Last year, my no-holds-barred chocolate goodie was Mint Chocolate Crinkle Kiss Cookies, a bona fide hit with the kids, hubby and ole St. Nick. This year, Santa requested his old-school favorite cookie be waiting by the chimney – chocolate chip! Better than the cookies from Toll House or even grandma’s house, these Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies will rock your candy cane socks off!

thefitfork.com chocolate chip cookies

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 12-ounce bag dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees.

Place softened butter in bowl of mixer. Add sugars and beat for several minutes until creamed. Add eggs, one at a time until incorporated.

Add vanilla, salt and baking soda and mix until incorporated. Add flour 1 cup at a time, beating until mixture is cohesive. Add chocolate chips and mix in with spatula.

Shape into 1 ¼” balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in 350 F degree oven for 12 – 13 minutes or until turning light golden brown.

Remove from oven and place cookies on cooling rack.

Makes approximately 6 dozen cookies.

bowl of chocolate chips

 

 

 

How to Roast Beef Tenderloin and Wear Diamonds #Recipe

jennifer earrings american heart associationWhen it comes right down to it, are diamonds really a girl’s best friend? There is no arguing the precious stones are stunning, sophisticated and sparkling. My heart skipped a few beats wearing this pair of red carpet-worthy, yellow and white diamond chandelier earrings from Carranza Jewelers in San Antonio. Even though I basked in the flattery and feel-good that came from having some big bling as my new buddy, I knew I wasn’t building a long-lasting relationship here. After all, were these earrings really going to clear their schedule to listen to my trivial problems, wake up early to cheer me on at a race, or provide me a brutally-honest reality check when I’m getting too self-absorbed?  I think not. So while we eventually parted ways (the earrings and me), I offered the invitation that we could hang out every now and then!

Whoohoo! Lean beef is a part of my heart-healthy diet!

Whoohoo! Lean beef is a part of my heart-healthy diet!

Obviously real people make the best friends, but when it comes to taking care of yourself, making good food choices and exercising will never let you down. In fact, these two lifestyle factors will help you stay fit and fabulous for decades to come. Recently, I was at a Circle of Red event for the American Heart Association (in the previously-mentioned earrings) to talk about the benefits of beef and how to incorporate them into a healthy holiday. For the last couple of decades, beef has been an important friend that looks out for my well-being —  it keeps me strong for running and working out, has been a go-to protein source for feeding those three hungry boys of mine, and is so versatile it can be served everywhere from a backyard cookout to a black-tie affair.

large tenderloin thefitfork

Three pound beef tenderloin with “countdown” spice rub and roasted for 45 minutes.

Preparing a beef roast for your winter-season celebration is a showy and yet simple way to treat yourself, family and friends — plus, most of the popular cuts (like sirloin roasts and tenderloin) are considered “lean” meaning they have less than 10 grams of fat per cooked 3-oz serving.  I’m a huge fan of tenderloin and preparing the biggest one we can find has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. This nutrient-dense cut is hands-down the most tender (duh, hence the name), comes in at 6.7 grams of fat per serving and is rich in a host of vitamins and minerals including iron (which I’ve been told I need more).

I am going to give you the straight-forward, skinny on how to make a super delicious, super easy tenderloin roast that will make you everyone’s new BFF. Aside from an oven-failure or act of God, there is no way this roast can be messed up.

How to Roast Beef Tenderloin

beef tenderloin spice rub

Step 1: Go to butcher counter and ask for a beef tenderloin roast (also called filet); the size depends on your appetite. What you see in the photo is just a little over 3 lbs. but you can get them up to 5 lbs. or even a little more if lots of company is coming. Plan on getting 2 – 3 servings per pound, less for holiday helpings.

Step 2:  Prepare a dry rub to coat and season the roast. You can use a store-bought rub or make your own – I have an easy recipe for Countdown Spice Rub that has a nice sweet-spicy-smoky flavor or you can also use 1 part Cavender’s Greek Seasoning to 1 part coarsely ground black pepper.  Thoroughly pat on rub, thickly covering every part of the roast. It might seem like you’re using a lot, but you need to create a good crust that will lock in juices — approximately 1/3 cup of a rub covers a 3 lb. roast.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Place roast (fat side up, if any fat is visible) into a shallow, rimmed roasting pan (approximate 2” rim).  You can use a rack if desired, but it is really not necessary for tenderloin because it is so lean. Sometimes I will just scrunch up a couple pieces of foil into a “rope” and place under the tenderloin as a throw-away “rack.”

Step 4: Place tenderloin in middle rack of the 350 F degree oven. Do not cover with a lid or foil. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes per pound; that would be 45 – 60 minutes for a 3 lb. tenderloin. I prefer to err on the short time estimation because I can always cook beef more, but I can’t “uncook” overdone meat.

Step 5 : Insert thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the tenderloin. Tenderloin is ready when thermometer reaches 135 F degrees. As it rests on the counter, the internal temperature should rise to 140 – 145 degrees, making it “medium-rare” which is what I would consider optimal for taste and texture.

Step 6: Tent roasting pan with foil and let roast rest on the counter for 15 minutes – this is essential, don’t skip this step!  The resting period gives the roast adequate time to seal in the juices that ensure tenderness.  Cutting into a steak and having a pool of juice pour makes for a chewy experience – so be patient.

Step 7: Carve meat against the grain using a sharp knife. The thickness of each slice depends on your preference and recipe. Slice into 2” thick filet steaks, 1/2” slices or even paper thin for leftover sandwiches!

Use leftovers (that is, if you have any!) to make a yummy steak salad, steak pizza or steak sandwich. Last night’s dinner was a Tenderloin Panini with Mascarpone and Truffle Pesto – it’s really not as much of a recipe as it is a creation, but I’ve tried to list out the details for you below:

thefitfork tenderloin pannini

Tenderloin Panini with Mascarpone and Truffle Pesto Recipe

  • 2 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon truffle pesto (or substitute preferred pesto)
  • 2 – 3 ounces of tenderloin, sliced very thin
  • Handful of baby spinach

Heat skillet to medium-high. Brush outsides of bread with olive oil. Spread mascarpone on inside of one slice and pesto on inside of remaining slice. Add beef and spinach between bread. Pan grill for 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until bread is golden brown and toasty.

Serves 1.

The roasting techniques I have described for a tenderloin are very similar other roasts, including sirloin roasts and rib roasts. I think Cooking Light magazine does a really great job of explaining how to cook a large bone-in roast like a standing rib roast — plus, some good recipes found here too including this Rosemary Dijon Crusted Standing Rib Roast.

1112p81-rosemary-dijon-crusted-standing-rib-roast-l

Relish the Day! Bourbon Cranberry Apricot & Pecan Relish Recipe

After getting three kids out the door with special class party snacks, finishing a running workout of mile repeats in this relentless humidity fest which is central Texas and hitting the grocery store with my daily list, you’d think I’d be too bogged down to celebrate National Cranberry Relish Day. But no way! I really relish all the nuances of this sweet -tart dish that makes not just  a great side dish but also is a superstar salsa for chips, crave-worthy condiment on wraps, and tasty topping for Greek yogurt.  Sometimes I wonder why people only make this recipe during the holiday season?!

There are so many versions of cranberry relish and everyone seems to have a favorite. Some like molded cranberry sauce right out of the can while others prefer the texture and taste of fresh relish. We have a family recipe for raw cranberry relish that’s been around forever — I can’t remember a Thanksgiving without it! Basically, its fresh cranberries, sugar and an entire orange (unpeeled!) thrown into a food processor and pulsed. I guess back in the day, Grandma just chopped it up with a knife, old-school style.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - bourbon cranberry apricot pecan relish

My recipe for Bourbon Cranberry Apricot and Pecan Relish is inspired by the not overly-sweet tang of this beloved family recipe, but adds some new and exciting ingredients — err, namely the bourbon!  The brief cooking process burns away all of the alcohol content, so you don’t have to worry about getting your little ones loopy!  However, if you’d rather not use the liquor, simply substitute ounce-for-ounce with more orange juice.

Here’s an interesting fact that my kids figured out – cranberries bounce! Apparently, small pockets of air inside the fruit make them bouncy and buoyant (that’s why they float when harvested in the bogs). It’s also why you will hear them popping in the sauce pan.

Bourbon Cranberry Apricot and Pecan Relish Recipe

Only six ingredients, so simple!

Only six ingredients, so simple!

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice (from medium orange)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from medium orange)
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • Garnish: fresh mint

In a large saucepan, bring all the ingredients (except pecans and mint garnish) to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes; let cool. Stir in pecans.  Serve warm, room temperature or cold – it’s good every way!

Serves 6 – 8.

jennifer handstand rings

So, as I mentioned earlier, my workout today was 5 mile repeats. And, thank goodness, it was not my “One-Derful” WOD which includes not only mile repeats but also lots of other tough stuff.  With Thanksgiving coming later this year, I didn’t realize that my marathon (Dallas) was just over 2 weeks away. I guess I’m going into taper mode and I am completely NOT ready for the marathon.  But I never am.  So what do my friend and I like to do after we run? We always take crazy pictures at her CrossFit box (BVM CrossFit) – I’m sure you’ve seen some of them before.  Nothing like walking around in a handstand with one of your legs stuck in a gymnastic ring. I added some sparkly disco lights to distract from my lack of flexibility!

Party Ready! Pomegranate Jicama Salad with Roasted Cilantro Shrimp

Although we’re just a few days into November, soon the winter holiday season will be in full swing. Invitations to parties galore will be popping up in your inbox and you may even be hosting a soiree of your own. If you’re anything like me, indulging in foods that have been forbidden to pass your lips for months upon months are now welcomed as the beloved, long-lost friends they are. It’s so wonderful to see you again cheesecakes, chocolate kiss cookies, mugs of eggnog and bacon-wrapped finger foods — squeal!

chocolate crinkle cookies kiss cookies thefitfork

Sometimes you just have to say “yes” to the splurge!

But, before you dive off head first into a bowl of fully-loaded artichoke spinach dip, remember – all things in moderation! I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again; I’ve never been a food denier. But, I do balance my splurges with healthy foods and watch my portion sizes when I know that tempting foods are coming my way.

jennifer fisher litehouse jicima pomegranate salad 1 big

One festive, flavorful and yet still fit dish I like to make (or bring) to parties is Pomegranate Jicama Salad with Roasted Cilantro Shrimp.  I created this colorful recipe to fulfill a request for “elegant and easy healthy holiday ideas” for the Living Litehouse blog.  This simple to assemble salad makes a showy statement when served as a light entrée. It can also be divided up among stemmed glasses and served as an appetizer, shrimp cocktail-style! If you’re not up to roasting the shrimp yourself, just purchase them ready to go at the chef-prepared food section of any upscale market. Guests will be impressed with the presentation and pomegranate flavor of this shrimp salad and not feel a bit guilty about overdoing it.

jennifer fisher litehouse jicima pomegranat salad individual big

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • For the shrimp:
  • 2 pounds uncooked (12 to 15-count) shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
  • For the salad:
  • 1 lb jicama peeled and julienned
  • 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 large pomegranate peeled and arils harvested
  • 2 Tbsp. minced jalapeno
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh very thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh minced cilantro
  • 2/3 cup Pomegranate Blueberry Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup salted roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 4-oz. crumbled Feta Cheese

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place shrimp on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir shrimp around a little to coat them in oil and then spread in a single layer. Sprinkle with cilantro.

3. Roast for approximately 8 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

3. Meanwhile, in large bowl, add julienned jicama, sliced red onion, pomegranate arils, jalapeno, spring onion, and cilantro. Pour Pomegranate Blueberry Vinaigrette over mixture and mix gently to combine.

4. Add spring mix to serving bowl or platter. Mound jicama-pomegranate mixture in the center of lettuce; sprinkle with pepitas and feta cheese.

5. Arrange roasted shrimp around perimeter.

 

With this deliciously nutritious and low-cal salad, you don’t have to feel guilty about taking a wild ride on the dessert cart; or, perhaps having a second slice of my Lower-Fat Caramel Apple Carrot Cake! Don’t forget to visit Living Litehouse for my recipes!

jennifer fisher litehouse closeup cake slice

On another note, it’s less than a week until I leave for Las Vegas to battle it off spatula to spatula with the other 99 contestants in the Pillsbury BakeOff.  If you missed it a few months ago, my recipe that made it through to become a finalist is an appetizer – Spicy Beef and Sweet Potato Samosas.  How cute is the official apron this year? It was created especially for the event by designer Whitney Port and I can’t wait to wear it!

pillsbury 2013 apron