The holidays are a time filled with family, friends….and so much food. This can be quite the challenge if you are the host. But at my house, I have some tried-and-true recipes that are sure to wow any guest. The best part? They are so tasty that you don’t even realize that these are actually good for you, too!

Snack to try: Stuffed Dates

These sweet treats need to be refrigerated, so don’t put them under the tree! They’re perfect to bring to a party or potluck, or to serve if you’ve got family visiting.


  • 12 dates
  • 6 teaspoons cheese of your choice (I suggest ricotta, goat, cream cheese, cheddar or blue cheese.)
  • 12 toasted pecan or walnut halves (To toast nuts, put them on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until they are fragrant and look a shade darker, about 5 minutes.)

A woman holds a handful of stuffed dates and lifts one to her mouth.


  1. Cut a slit in each date and remove the stone, if the dates are not already pitted.
  2. Fill the cavity with cheese and top the cheese with a pecan or walnut half. Squeeze shut the opening.
  3. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate overnight. Allow the dates to come to room temperature before serving.

Side to try: Beets with Vinaigrette

Vinegar balances out the sweetness of beets just right. Feel free to use your own vinaigrette instead of the oil and vinegar I suggest here! Likewise, if you’re making fruit vinegar, this would be a perfect dish to use it in.


  • 4 scrubbed, unpeeled beets that weigh about 1 pound without the greens (If possible, the beets should be more or less the same size, with 1 inch of stalk still on them.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

A green bowl full of chopped beets with vinaigrette.


  1. Put the beets in a large pot and set it on the stove. Add 3 inches of water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat to medium, add the beets to the pot and cover. Then steam until the beets are tender throughout and can be pierced with a fork, 30–40 minutes, depending on the size of the beets.
  3. Set the beets aside to cool in the pot, then remove the skins by rubbing and peeling the beets with your fingers.
  4. Slice or dice the beets and put them in a serving bowl.
  5. Drizzle the beets with the oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Taste a piece and add more vinegar or a pinch of salt if the flavor needs a boost.
  6. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Sweet to try: Easy (as) Apple Pie

Apple pie might be the classic heart-warming American dessert, but this recipe uses a French technique to make what’s called a galette—a kind of free-form pastry that’s as tasty as it is un-fancy.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (chilled or frozen and cut into 12 pieces)
  • Up to 1/4 cup ice water
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

A round apple galette on a red striped plate.


  1. Turn the oven on and set it to 400 degrees.
  2. To make the dough: Put the 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, salt and butter in a mixing bowl and massage them together with your clean fingers until the mixture looks like little round lumps. Be patient and gentle; this will take a little while to get the hang of and to do.
  3. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, massage some more and form into a ball. Flatten the dough into a large disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. To make the filling: Put the apple slices, cinnamon, vanilla and yogurt in the bowl and mix well.
  5. To assemble the tart: Take the disc out of the refrigerator and put it on a baking sheet. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 15-inch circle (it doesn’t have to be exact). Sprinkle the 1 1/2 tablespoons flour in the center, leaving a 2-inch border all around (AKA: don’t sprinkle the flour on the outermost 2 inches). Spread the apple mixture evenly over the flour, arranging the slices so they overlap some.
  6. Fold up the dough border to partially cover the fruit, and pinch and seal the corners where possible.
  7. Carefully put the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the crust is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling, 35–50 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit and serve warm or at room temperature.

All recipes reprinted with permission from Chop Chop© Magazine.

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