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Holiday Hostess

My cheeks and jaw are sore from laughing so hard last night. The can’t-breathe, eyes-are-watering kind of laughing. Those are good moments. :)

My parents are very good at hosting friends for meals and tend to go way overboard with the amount of food they prepare. Last night, they set up a build-your-own-pizza bar for some of their friends and mine while we played games like Taboo for about 6 hours.

I made a ‘fruits & veggies’ pizza – pineapple, tomato, artichokes, bell peppers, onions and spinach. It’s funny how differently everyone designs their pizzas! My best friend Kerri and I used to have a lot of homemade pizza nights in college and we had very strong opposing opinions on cheese placement. She argues that the cheese goes between the sauce and veggies like glue. I believe cheese goes on the very top like a seal. We agree to disagree.

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Seeing how my parents host parties and events with their friends makes me excited to do the same in my own place. Two years ago, I hosted Thanksgiving at my apartment in Flagstaff, AZ while I was a senior in college and I loved planning the drinks and decorations and place settings. Last year, I was in charge of appetizers and dessert.

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Obviously food is at the core of holiday celebrations. When you live that healthy lifestyle, a full day of feasting can be a little stressful. I don’t like to let my healthy values fall to the wayside on major holidays because overindulging typically results in feeling guilty and that is not a feeling to associate with a day of thankfulness.

Side dishes that are individually portioned are one way to avoid over-eating. One pre-sliced crostini with a tablespoon of toppings is a two-bite snack that won’t ruin your appetite for dinner.

Our Thanksgiving dishes aren’t extremely traditional. Basic recipes are typically heavy on the butter/salt/cheese ingredients and low in nutritional value. Plus, after decades of the same boring turkey and mashed potatoes, we are ready for something unique, spicy and creative! We’ve made curried sweet potatoes (try something besides marshmallows, I dare you) and bacon-roasted brussel sprouts. I do think these butternut squash and sage crostini’s were my favorite appetizer, probably in large part to how pretty they plate!

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Butternut Squash & Basil Crostini App: 

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage, rinsed
  • 4 Laughing Cow cheese wedges (I used the asiago flavor)
  • 1 baguette, cut into 12 slices

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir butternut squash cubes into the olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a cookie sheet.

2.) Bake the squash for 45 minutes.

3.) Place the baguette slices in the oven for 4-5 minutes until warm. Top with a tablespoon of cheese, squash and some fresh sage.

Enjoy!

Another appetizer success last year was my spicy cranberry jalapeno relish and “stuffing sliders.” I’ll share this clean-eating recipe later this week.

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A week from today, my office is having a Friends-giving potluck lunch with the office and I signed up for a sweet potato dish. Sweet potatoes are one of my top 5 favorite foods ever and I’ll make a post about my favorite sweet potato recipes as well. If you’ve only ever eaten sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar, these will change your life. ;)

Feel free to share any of your favorite healthy or not-so-healthy holiday recipes!

XO Kenz.

 

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