Let me start by saying, fall is my favorite time of year. After a long hot Arizona summer, I always welcome the cooler temps, the start of football season, and the anticipation of the holidays. Another reason I love this time of year; it brings people together and welcomes the opportunity to consume a plethora of delicious food.
I LOVE food, but I’m also very intentional about living a healthy lifestyle. I recently had the opportunity to peruse the Deliciously Holistic cookbook by Shelley Alexander, which has so many wonderful ideas for healthy eating options and even includes a shopping guide that serves as a great resource.
There were several recipes from this cookbook that inspired me, but with football season in full swing, I decided the Dijon Honey Chicken Wings would go perfect alongside a Sunday afternoon game. I’m a big fan of wings, but rarely eat them because they are typically deep-fried, which means they are good AND…fattening. This was a great healthy alternative and proved to be just as described - juicy, tangy, and flavorful. I must admit, they were gone in less than 5 minutes!
If you’re looking for ways to offer quick and convenient healthy eating options for your family this holiday season, Alexander offers six tips:
• When shopping, check labels and avoid foods with a long list of ingredients. The best whole foods have one or just a few unprocessed or minimally processed, easily recognized ingredients, Alexander says. Among ingredients to avoid: chemicals, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, MSG, genetically modified ingredients and preservatives (indicated by the initials BHT, BHA, EDTA and THBQ.)
• Set aside a few hours each week to prep foods to eat in the days ahead. Cut up produce and store it in airtight containers. Lightly wash produce before using with natural vegetable wash or use one part white vinegar to three parts water. Make several homemade vinaigrettes or dressings to last all week so you can make leafy greens and vegetable salads in minutes. Clean and marinate enough meat or poultry for dinners over the next few days.
• Start your day with a green smoothie. Cut and freeze organic fresh fruit to use in green smoothies. You can also buy frozen fruit that’s already cut up. Add organic kale or spinach, coconut water or nut and seed milks plus natural sweeteners such as dates or stevia for an energy-boosting beverage.
• For your holiday dinners, plan on making at least three to four dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Good examples are pasture-raised, wild turkey with sage and garlic, baked wild salmon with lemon and herbs, steamed greens, roasted heirloom root vegetables drizzled with balsamic glaze, pureed winter squash soups, and desserts made with seasonal fruits, spices, and healthy sweeteners like coconut sugar or raw honey.
• Invest in a dehydrator. Dehydrate fruits and vegetables and raw nuts or seeds that have been soaked in unrefined sea salt water (which removes anti-nutrients, kick-starts the germination process, and increases key vitamins), and you’ll have plenty of on-the-go snacks with a long shelf life. Dehydrators are convenient and easy to use; Alexander recommends Excalibur.
• Make batches of fermented vegetables twice a month. Alexander recommends eating fermented vegetables every day to keep your digestive system healthy. They’re loaded with probiotics – the good bacteria your intestines need. Mix a variety of organic vegetables such as carrots and celery into brine with warm filtered water, unrefined sea salt, and cultured vegetable starter or liquid whey, and mix with shredded cabbage heads. Pack the mixture into sterilized glass jars and allow the vegetables to ferment for five to seven days. Once done fermenting, store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Alexander’s cookbook, Deliciously Holistic. It will inspire you to eat foods that nourish your body and are equally delish!
DIJON HONEY CHICKEN WINGS
⅓ cup Dijon mustard
½ medium peeled lemon—remove all the white pith
¼ cup raw honey
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
2 large cloves peeled garlic—grated
⅛ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
12 whole chicken wings—rinsed and patted dry
½ teaspoon Paprika
Preheat oven to 400˚ F.
Blend together all ingredients in a blender except chicken wings and paprika until smooth. Taste and add more sea salt or black pepper to taste. Set aside for later.
Remove tips from cleaned wings and cut in half. Place chicken tips in a freezer bag and freeze to
use for stock.
Place wing pieces in a large rectangular baking dish that’s been greased lightly or lined with parchment paper. You will have 24 wing pieces. Sprinkle lightly with additional sea salt and black pepper, place in the oven, and bake, turning over at 30-minute mark.
Baste chicken wings with natural juices in pan. Brush mustard sauce all over wings, sprinkle with paprika and continue to cook for an additional 25–30 minutes until done. Wings should have an internal temperature of 165˚ F when done.