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Healthy holiday treats

The holidays are all about indulgence, especially when it comes to food. But you can enjoy the “goods” without the guilt.

Culinary personality Maggie Jiménez, host of “Qué Sabor,” a cooking and lifestyle show on Telefutura, says you can reduce holiday calories by grilling, rather than frying, your proteins (chicken, pork, beef), and using fruits for seasoning food.

Here are two ideas from Maggie for a light holiday appetizer and drink. Go ahead and indulge without worrying about packing on the pounds.

Appetizer: Cheese Stuffed Green Zucchini with Red Wine Vinaigrette (Serves 4-6 people)

Ingredients

5 green zucchini1 cup cottage cheese1 cup ricotta cheese1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped2 cups sour cream1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper1 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the vinaigrette1/2 cup red wine vinegar1 garlic clove, finely chopped1 tsp. sugar1/2 tsp. dry oregano1 tsp. salt1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Bring water to a boil, add zucchini and simmer until al dente. Drain and cut zucchini in halves (horizontally), remove seeds. In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, onion, sour cream and black pepper and mix well. Using a pastry bag or plastic zip-lock bag with a corner cut out, pipe cheese mixture into the center of each hollow zucchini, filling completely. On low heat in a small saucepan, combine red wine vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and dry oregano; boil for approximately three minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Emulsify the olive oil into the heated liquid by slowly pouring the olive oil into the saucepan while constantly whisking until creamy, thick and smooth.

To serve

Place cheese stuffed green zucchinis’ on a plate and drizzle with the red wine vinaigrette.

Drink:

Pomegranate Margarita with Sugared Rim (Serves 4-6 people)

Ingredients1 cup white tequila1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1/2 cup bottled pomegranate juice 4 tblsp. simple syrup3 tblsp. Triple Sec1/2 cup fine sugar for rimLime wedges and slices of pomegranate

DirectionsMix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and frothy. Serve in a chilled glass rimmed in sugar and garnish with lime wedges and slices of pomegranate. For sugar rim: Fill a saucer with super-fine sugar. Moisten the outer edge of the glass with a little Triple Sec. Dab the wet rim of the glass into the sugar and turn slowly until edge is lightly coated. Garnish with a lime wedge or slice of pomegranate.

Sweet on Honey

For desserts, celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein suggests substituting sugar with honey. “Honey is an amazingly versatile ingredient. When it’s used right, it works beautifully, in savory dishes and desserts, as an alternative to sugar,” she says. “Not only is it natural and lends sweetness to any dish, it also has a unique depth of flavor that complements so many things.”

Here’s a recipe from Bernstein to try.

DESSERT:

Fig and honey clafouti, hazelnuts and brown butter ice cream(Courtesy: Michelle Bernstein and the National Honey Board)

Ingredients

1/3 cup honey1 1/2 cups milk1 cup crème fraiche4 eggs1 tblsp. vanilla extract1/2 cup all purpose flour1/2 cup almond flour (or ground almonds to a fine powder)1/4 tsp. salt6 tblsp. fig marmalade1 pound fresh figs, quartered1 tblsp. olive oil

Directions

Heat the oven to 350o F. Spray 4-6 small, shallow 2-ounce baking dishes (like crème brûlée dishes) with oil. In a blender puree the milk, crème fraiche, honey, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Sift the flour together and salt into a bowl. Slowly whisk the pureed mixture into the dry ingredients until smooth. Strain the batter. Spoon about a tablespoon of fig marmalade into each baking dish; flatten the marmalade onto the bottom with a spoon. Pour the batter slowly into each of the baking dishes, just over the marmalade. Arrange the figs, cut side up on top of the batter. Drizzle a little oil over each one and bake until golden and set, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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