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Holiday De(Lights)

With the holidays come parties, with parties come great food, and with great food comes those extra pounds we all try to burn come New Year’s. This year, lighten up with some new spins on old favorites. All you’ll be missing are the extra calories.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

Cooking spray
½ (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cup regular oats
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Crimp edges as desired.
3. Combine brown sugar and next 5 ingredients, stirring well with a wire whisk. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Bake for 325
°F for 45 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Yields 12 servings.

Autumn Quinoa Salad

To simplify things, purchase pre-rinsed quinoa and omit Step 1 below on rinsing and draining.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained well
2 cups water
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1½ cups diced cucumber
cup diced radishes
¼ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped unsalted almonds, toasted
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1. Place quinoa in a fine sieve and place sieve in a large bowl. Rinse quinoa and drain well.
2. Combine water, quinoa, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together white balsamic vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, and pepper; set aside.
4. Combine quinoa, cucumber, radishes, onion, almonds, cranberries, and mint. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture, tossing gently. Serve immediately or chill, if desired. Serves 8. 

Good-for-You Pumpkin Dip

Made with reduced fat cream cheese and served with fresh fruit and gingersnaps, Good-for-You Pumpkin Dip will please every palate.

1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Fruit skewers, sliced apples, sliced pears, gingersnaps

Beat cream cheese, pumpkin and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg; beat until smooth. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes. Serve with fruit skewers, apples, pears, and gingersnaps. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Lightened Up Sweet Potato Casserole

Using egg whites and low-fat sweetened condensed milk with a touch of whole wheat flour makes for guilt-free second helpings of this traditional favorite. You can also make the recipe into individual casseroles by spooning the sweet potato mixture into six (8-ounce) lightly greased ramekins. Bake at 400°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. 

6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ can (14 ounces) low fat sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
3 tablespoons orange juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed 
1 cup chopped pecans
¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup butter, melted

1. Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water 30 to 40 minutes or until tender, and drain. Cool slightly, and peel.
2. Preheat oven to 425°F.

3. Combine potatoes, sugar, and next six ingredients in a large bowl; mash with a potato masher and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
4. Combine brown sugar, pecans, flour, and butter in a medium bowl; sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.
5. Bake at 425°F for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated, shielding top with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive
browning. Yields 10 - 12 servings.

Pomegranate Hot Cider 

Pomegranate Hot Cider uses a light healthy pomegranate juice for a twist to apple cider.

4 cups apple cider
3 cups light pomegranate juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Garnish: Extra cinnamon sticks, 
orange slices

1. Combine apple cider, pomegranate juice, orange juice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and cloves in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer, then cook an additional 30 minutes.
2. Remove cinnamon sticks, and garnish mugs with additional fresh cinnamon sticks and orange slices, if desired. Yields 8 - 10 servings.

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