The Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Holiday Food Tips for A Busy Woman
We are often, as women, in charge of preparing housewarming parties for the holidays and nowhere do the traditional suggestions of dishes make it easy to follow a diet like the one practiced at the Malibu Beach Recovery Center. Thanksgiving, in particular, thrives on sugar-laden dishes, extra servings of carbs and the obvious pumpkin or pecan pies. I wanted to offer a few alternatives that you could either serve at your own family reunions, or bring to a potluck gathering (at least you will be assured that your offerings will make up the majority of your plate!).
A good rule of thumb to preserve your sanity is to prepare dishes in advance, those that can be either assembled at the last minute or reheated in a hot oven or in the microwave for the really rushed ones. The dishes below all belong in those categories and the purpose is to be able to enjoy your family and friends without toiling in the kitchen and coming to the table exhausted and ready to take a well-deserved nap; none of this here. We suggest making a list of things to buy that can be spread in your previous shopping trips so that both the time and cost are spread out on a longer period of time. If you purchase your dry and canned ingredients a week in advance, they will politely sit in your pantry until it is time to use them. Fruits and vegetables can be bought a few days ahead of time, leaving meats and poultry to be purchased two days before the occasion, allowing plenty of thawing time if necessary.
On a buffet, I would consider some of the following alternatives:
Pita chips with assorted dips: tapenade, roasted red pepper spread, guacamole and yogurt-dill dip.
You can also use a whole-grain bread to make crostinis.
Cheese platter: any easily spreadable cheese is fine, like goat cheese, soft cheese like St.André, Brie and cubes of harder cheese like Gruyère, Cheddar or Provolone. Do not forget the pickles and whole-grain crackers.
Deviled eggs are a favorite as well. Vary the filling with smoked salmon, anchovies, chives or blue cheese.
Mini-grilled cheese sandwiches using whole-wheat bread, cut away the crusts, cut in four squares and each square into two triangles.
Mini frittatas: use a muffin pan, line with muffin cups and fill no more than half-way up to ensure proper cooking. Use a variety of fillings: spinach, asparagus, salmon, mushroom, cheese, shrimp or crab. Alternate the color of the muffin linings with the recipe for your frittata.
If you are up to it, you can even make a baby empanada with a whole-wheat dough and a mushroom filling. For proteins, I would make an assortment of the following:
Meatballs: make them super moist and no more than the size of a tablespoon.
Chicken satay with peanut sauce.
Spicy shrimp, sautéed with red pepper flakes and a touch of tomato sauce, then put on a
toothpick or skewer.
Mini crab cakes with a garlic aioli (mayonnaise with crushed garlic).
Just make sure that each bite is just that, one bite… no knives required.
There should be one large platter in each corner of the room with slices of fruits and vegetables to cleanse the palate:
Apples and pears (dip them in a solution of 2 cups water and the juice of one lemon to avoid
Radishes, Asian pear and jicama.
Carrots, celery, baby tomatoes and zucchini sticks.
These can be eaten with the dips or on their own.
Finally for dessert, there are many ways to purchase glass or white ceramic mini-dishes that are traditionally used for catering. Any restaurant supply carries those, as well as Marshall’s and Bed, Bath and Beyond. They will make your mini-desserts so simple to prepare. In these mini-dishes, you can provide an assortments of desserts like:
Baby fruit tarts: cook the pastry dough in a mini-muffin tin and assemble at the last
minute: add a teaspoon of pastry cream and a strawberry, raspberry, a few blueberries or a
slice of kiwi.
Mini-chocolate mousse: make ahead then pipe in the dishes and wait until the last minute to
Choux filled with whipping cream and dipped in melted chocolate.
Mini tarts filled with lemon curd and topped with a raspberry.
Bittersweet chocolate tarts.
All of the time you spend planning your meal in preparation will enable you to come to the event in a relaxed and stress-free state. You are surrounded with friends and loved ones and the celebration should be one of joy and ease. Remember that this is not “Top Chef” and that, at our expected level of creation, the food comes only secondary to the love that we share with the people around the table.