100 Healthy Holiday Appetizer Recipes Cocktail Party Menu Planning

Bookmark (or Pin) this collection of 100+ Healthy Holiday Appetizer Recipes and refer back to these tips for planning a cocktail party menu. Our family loves appetizers, so for the holidays, we graze on appetizers in the afternoon before dinner. Our schedule shifts later and later into the day, so breakfast becomes brunch, and dinner is often served later, so appetizers are the perfect way to tied everyone’s appetites over until then. Whether you’re looking for little nibbles, dips, spreads or more substantial appetizers, there’s something for everyone in this collection of healthy holiday appetizer recipes.

100+ Healthy Holiday Appetizers & Cocktail Party Tips - PIN this now to refer to throughout the holiday season - dips, finger foods and more

Pictured top to bottom, left to right: Black Bean, Pomegranate and Avocado Salsa (Two Peas and Their Pod), Coconut Shrimp with Thai Chili Ginger Sauce (Joyful Healthy Eats), Spicy Tuna Avocado Cucumber Appetizers with Pickled Ginger (Jeanette’s Healthy Living), Caprese Bites (Cooking On The Front Burners), Thai Chicken Skewers with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce (Jeanette’s Healthy Living), Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms (Aggie’s Kitchen), Fresh Basil Hummus (The View From Great Island), Prosciutto Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese (Jeanette’s Healthy Living), Kalamata Olive & Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes (Tasty Yummies), Satay Beef Skewers with Peanut Sauce (Jeanette’s Healthy Living), Roasted Shrimp Cocktail (Jeanette’s Healthy Living), Endive Stuffed with Old Bay Crab Salad (Jeanette’s Healthy Living), Falafel-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas (An Edible Mosaic), Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (A Cedar Spoon)

(Updated to include more appetizer recipes for the holiday season)

I have to admit that appetizers are my favorite part of the meal, whether we’re eating at a restaurant or going to a holiday party. I just love being able to taste little bites of this and that. In fact, I’d rather eat a bunch of appetizers than eat a whole meal. The only problem with appetizers during the holiday season is that they’re often very rich, so the calories and fat start adding up quickly.

So, to help with holiday menu planning, whether you’re throwing a holiday party or just entertaining your own family, I’ve put together an enormous list of healthier, light holiday appetizers. I’ve categorized this huge list into Nibbles, Finger Foods, Skewered and Stuffed Appetizers, Bean Dips and Hummus, and Salsas Spreads and More to make it easier to pick and choose your favorites.

Cocktail Party Menu Planning Tips

How Much Food To Make For A Cocktail Party

I’m always worried I won’t have enough food, so here are a couple of tips for how much food to make for a cocktail party:

  • Make 5-6 different appetizers
  • Choose 3-4 appetizers that can be made ahead of time and either served cold, room temperature, can be easily reheated or assembled last minute
  • Include a few dips or a cheese platter that can be placed out as soon as guests arrive while you attend to last minute details
  • Count on 8-10 bites per person (e.g., For a party of 10, that means 80-100 bites total. So, if you’re making 5 appetizers, make 16-20 pieces of each appetizer, erring on the side of more rather than less
  • Put out a few bowls of nuts and nibbles (Trader Joe’s has a nice assortment of spiced nuts if you don’t want to make your own)

Tips For Organizing A Cocktail Party

  • Write down the menu and print out the recipes
  • Test all the recipes ahead of time (my family loved eating appetizers for dinner as I was testing out recipes for our cocktail party)
  • Jot down any garnishes you want to include with the appetizers (e.g., lemon slices for Roasted Shrimp Cocktail platter, banana leaves to line the platter for Thai Chicken Skewers, chopped chives and red bell peppers for Endive Stuffed with Old Bay Crab Salad)
  • Make a shopping list and shop a few days before the event (you will almost always have last minute items to pick up, but try to get most of the shopping out of the way earlier)
  • Take out serving platters the day before
  • Write down a schedule of what needs to be done the day before and the day of the party, and anything that needs to be done right before the party. I’m a little anal, so I even write down what needs to be done hour by hour the day of the party, backing up from the time the party starts.

Sample Cocktail Party Menu

Take a look around and let me know if you try any of these recipes. I know I’ll be referring to it through the New Year.

Appetizer Nibbles

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Honey Mustard Roasted Cashews (The Law Student’s Wife), Warm Rosemary Olives (The Kitchen is my Playground), Falafel-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas (An Edible Mosaic)

  1. Prosciutto Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  2. Chili Spiced Almonds, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  3. Falafel-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas, An Edible Mosaic
  4. Honey Mustard Roasted Cashews, The Law Student’s Wife
  5. Warm Rosemary Olives, The Kitchen is my Playground
  6. Rosemary and White Pepper Almonds, Seasonal and Savory
  7. Crunchy Seeded Crackers, Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  8. Baked Pita Chips with Za’atar, The Lemon Bowl
  9. Garlic Parmesan Yellow Squash Chips, Diethood
  10. Herb Marinated Feta, Tasting Page
  11. Baked Crispy Sweet Potato Fries, Petite Allergy Treats
  12. Breaded Zucchini Fries, Petite Allergy Treats

Finger Food Appetizers

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Spicy Tuna Bites (Food Faith Fitness), Caprese Bites (Cooking On The Front Burners), Coconut Shrimp with Thai Chili Ginger Sauce (Joyful Healthy Eats)

  1. Spicy Tuna Wonton Cups, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  2. Easy Asian Salmon Cucumber Appetizers, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  3. Spicy Tuna Avocado Cucumber Appetizers with Pickled Ginger, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  4. Spicy Ahi Tuna Avocado Tartare Bites, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  5. Roasted Old Bay Shrimp, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  6. Roasted Shrimp Cocktail, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  7. The Best Spanish Garlic Shrimp, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  8. Red Curry Meatballs with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  9. Za’atar Meatballs, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  10. Assorted Tartines, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  11. Pink Salmon Quinoa Patties, The Bitter Side of Sweet
  12. Spicy Tuna Bites, Food Faith Fitness
  13. Zucchini, Tapenade & Feta Bites, Cook The Story
  14. Crispy Millet Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Cook The Story
  15. Garlicky Red Quinoa Patties with Mango Black Bean Salsa, An Edible Mosaic
  16. Spinach and Feta Quinoa Bites, Aggie’s Kitchen
  17. Red Lentil Patties with Spicy Tomato Jam, Crumb
  18. Coconut Shrimp with Thai Chili Ginger Sauce, Joyful Healthy Eats
  19. Caprese Bites, Cooking On The Front Burners
  20. Spicy Barbecue Beer Shrimp, American Heritage Cooking
  21. Crab Puffs, Seasonal and Savory
  22. Southwestern Sweet Potato Rounds, A Cedar Spoon
  23. Roasted Cauliflower Bruschetta, The Law Student’s Wife
  24. Sweet Potato Bites, The Law Student’s Wife
  25. Mini Caprese Polenta Pizzas, Cupcakes and Kale Chips
  26. Butternut Squash Pomegranate Goat Cheese Crostini, Cupcakes and Kale Chips
  27. Easy Grilled Polenta with Fresh Mozzarella and Balsamic Tomatoes, Two Healthy Kitchens (with indoor broiler option)
  28. Mini Hummus & Roasted Pepper Phyllo Bites, Cookin’ Canuck
  29. Skinny Pesto Pizza Crostini, Cookin’ Canuck
  30. Skinny Coconut Shrimp, Skinnytaste
  31. Shrimp Salad on Cucumber Slices, Skinnytaste

Stuffed and Skewered Appetizers

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Greek Salad Skewers (Karen’s Kitchen Stories), Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms (Aggie’s Kitchen), Party Animals (The View From Great Island)

  1. Marinated Mozzarella Balls, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  2. Thai Chicken Skewers with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  3. Satay Beef Skewers with Peanut Sauce, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  4. Assorted Skewered Party Appetizers, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  5. Endive Stuffed with Old Bay Crab Salad, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  6. Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms, Aggie’s Kitchen
  7. Vegan Grain-Free Stuffed Mushrooms, Tasty Yummies
  8. Gluten-Free Stuffed Mushrooms, Rhubarb and Honey
  9. Spinach & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms, Joyful Healthy Eats
  10. Mini Prosciutto and Melon Cups, Cook The Story
  11. Cheese Cup Appetizers, Simply Sated
  12. Kalamata Olive & Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes, Tasty Yummies
  13. Zucchini Salsa Cups, Petite Allergy Treats
  14. Wild Sardine and Grapefruit Salad in Endive Cups, Seasonal and Savory
  15. Heavenly Deviled Eggs, Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
  16. Party Animals, The View From Great Island
  17. Apricot Canapés with Goat Cheese, Almonds and Rosemary, Cook The Story
  18. Greek Salad Skewers, Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  19. Mini Caprese Salad Skewers, Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  20. Guacamole Deconstructed & Skewered, Tasting Page
  21. Christmas Mini-Skewers, Gimme Some Oven

Bean Dips and Hummus

Pictured top to bottom, left to right: Hummus Dip with Kalamata Olives and Capers (Jeanette’s Healthy Living), Fresh Basil Hummus (The View From Great Island), Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (A Cedar Spoon)

  1. Smoky Sun-Dried Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  2. Hummus Dip with Kalamata Olives and Capers, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  3. Sweet Potato Hummus, The Kitchen is my Playground
  4. Hummus with Jalapeno and Lime, Food Faith Fitness
  5. Edamame Dip, Aggie’s Kitchen
  6. Italian Cannellini Hummus with Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Two Healthy Kitchens
  7. Ginger-Miso Edamame Spread, Crumb
  8. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, A Cedar Spoon
  9. Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus, Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
  10. Maple Walnut Sweet Potato Hummus, Cupcakes and Kale Chips
  11. Spinach Parmesan White Bean Dip, Cupcakes and Kale Chips
  12. Fresh Basil Hummus, The View From Great Island
  13. Chestnut Hummus, Busy In Brooklyn
  14. Healthy White Bean Dip, Yummy Healthy Easy
  15. Spinach Artichoke White Bean Dip with Feta, Tasty Yummies
  16. Eggplant and White Bean Dip, The Lemon Bowl
  17. Sriracha Butternut Squash Hummus, Farm Fresh Feasts
  18. Spicy Sriracha White Bean Dip, White On Rice Couple

Salsas, Spreads and More Dips

Pictured top to bottom, left to right: Black Bean, Pomegranate and Avocado Salsa (Two Peas and Their Pod), Smoked Salmon Dip (An Edible Mosaic), Cowboy Caviar (From Valerie’s Kitchen)

  1. Cranberry Apple Chutney Pecan Brie Appetizer, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  2. Cranberry Pistachio Mint Goat Cheese Appetizer, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  3. Crab Avocado Tomato Basil Appetizer with Wasabi Soy Dressing, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  4. Skinny Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  5. Warm Artichoke and Hearts of Palm Dip, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  6. Greek Feta Yogurt Dip, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  7. Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  8. A Healthier Crab Dip, Jeanette’s Healthy Living
  9. Black Bean, Pomegranate and Avocado Salsa, Two Peas and Their Pod
  10. Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip, Two Peas and Their Pod
  11. Goat Cheese Spread with Roasted Tomatoes, The Creekside Cook
  12. Tomato, Garlic and Basil Bruschetta, Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  13. Harvest Sweet Potato Salsa, Farm Fresh Feasts
  14. Butter Chicken Dip & Homemade Naan Bread, Food Faith Fitness
  15. Smoked Salmon Dip, An Edible Mosaic
  16. Healthy Roasted Garlic and Chive Cottage Cheese Crema, An Edible Mosaic
  17. Festive Greek Dip, Neighborhood Food
  18. Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Dip, Two Healthy Kitchens
  19. Black Eye Pea and Three Pepper Salsa, The Domestic Front
  20. Creamy Roasted Corn Avocado Dip, Petite Allergy Treats
  21. Homemade French Onion Dip, Crumb
  22. Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip, Seasonal and Savory
  23. Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip, Tasty Yummies
  24. Creamy Dill Greek Yogurt Dip, A Cedar Spoon
  25. Guilt-Free Jalapeno Artichoke Dip, Dizzy Busy and Hungry
  26. Cowboy Caviar, From Valerie’s Kitchen
  27. Roasted Garlic Chive Dip, Dinners Dishes and Desserts
  28. Skinny Avocado Dip, Yummy Healthy Easy

What are your favorite healthy holiday appetizers? Do you have any cocktail party menu planning tips you’d like to share?

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Source: Jeanettes Healthy Living

Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken Recipe Jeanettes Healthy

Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken is delicious, healthy, budget-friendly and perfect for a cold wintry night. I tasted my first Japanese style curry as a graduate student at Columbia University. Growing up, my mom made curry chicken that had coconut milk in it. I’m not sure if it was a Chinese or Filipino version, or perhaps a combination of both. Only after I left home did I start discovering that there are so many other kinds of curry dishes out there.

Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken - mild and sweet, this curry is very saucy and delicious over rice

I finally broke down and bought an Instant Pot 9-in-1 on Black Friday. I have a stove-top pressure cooker, a rice cooker and several slow cookers, so I was hesitant to buy yet another small appliance. But, curiosity got the best of me and I had to see for myself if the instant pot was indeed a worthwhile investment. This Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken was the first recipe on my list to try.

The Japanese curry I was introduced to in graduate school was made using a block of curry roux and seasoning that can purchased at Asian grocery stores. Although it is very easy to use, the ingredients include caramel coloring, MSG and other chemicals. So, I decided to try making Japanese curry chicken from scratch based on two different recipes from Tadashi Ono’s Japanese Soul Cooking cookbook. The traditional Japanese curry recipe requires you to make a roux from butter and flour. The more contemporary Japanese curry depends on a large amount of cooked-down onions to help had some heft and thickness to the curry. How clever.

I chose to try onions as the more contemporary thickener for this Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken since the entire cooking process from sauteeing the onions to cooking the curry could be done in the Instant Pot.

It’s important to have all your ingredients prepped before starting this Instant Pot Japanese curry chicken recipe (although you will have 15 minutes to prep while the onions are cooking).

First, I set the Instant Pot on “Saute” and added some oil to the pot. It took about 4 minutes to heat up (the pot will read “Hot” when it is hot enough to start sauteeing). Once the pot was hot, I added a lot of thinly sliced onions (red, white or a combination will work). Let the onions cook for about 15 minutes or until they start to brown on the bottom.

Add garlic, ginger and boneless chicken thigh chunks to the pot and saute a few minutes.

Add carrots, potatoes, shredded apple (for natural sweetness), and curry powder (I used a Japanese curry powder called S&B Curry Powder). Toss to mix, then add 5 cups of chicken broth and mix well. Hit the “Cancel” button.

Set the Instant Pot to “Meat/Stew” and set the timer to 15 minutes. Once the timer is done, the instant pot will automatically switch to “Keep Warm”. At this point, you can either let the Instant Pot depressurize naturally, or quick release the pressure by turning the steam release handle to the “Venting” position.

I found the onions did not thicken the curry as much as I had hoped, so I used a cornstarch slurry to further thicken it. This was done with the Instant Pot on the saute setting.

Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken brought back memories from my graduate school days. It is pure comfort food, and has tons of sauce/gravy, so enjoy drinking it as is, or serve over steamed rice as is traditionally done.

Initial Thoughts On Instant Pot

I’ve only made a few recipes using the Instant Pot (including spareribs, carnitas, and hard boiled eggs which all came out great), but I already know one feature that is helpful: the sauté setting. The sauté setting allows you to sauté aromatics right in the pot before using the pressure cooker or slow cooker setting. With a regular slow-cooker, I usually sauté aromatics and brown meats in a separate pan on the stove-top before adding them to the slow cooker.

I also like the fact that you can set the timer and the instant pot will shut off automatically and keep food warm after it’s done cooking. Unlike my stove-top pressure cooker, I can walk away from the kitchen and not worry about turning the stove off.

The Instant Pot does take some time to heat up on the sauté setting, as well as to heat the contents up to temperature before the pressure cooker timer kicks in (about 15 minutes), but this is only an issue if you are really in a hurry.

As a frequent pressure cooker and slow cooker user, I can see the Instant Pot replacing both of these appliances. However, the instant pot I bought has only a 6-quart capacity, so for larger meals, I will still need my big slow cooker.

I haven’t tried using the Instant Pot to cook rice yet, but that’s next on my list. I love my rice cooker, so I’m curious to see if the results will be just as good. Either way, I will probably continue making rice in my rice cooker since I will most likely be preparing the main course in the Instant Pot at the same time.

Instant Pot Japanese Chicken Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 pounds onions about 5 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 large carrots cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 pound potatoes peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large apple grated
  • 4 tablespoons Japanese curry powder use a little less if you don’t like a spicy curry
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste

Cornstarch Slurry

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water

Instructions

Sauteeing To Start Curry

  1. Turn Instant Pot to “Saute” setting. Once pot is hot and reads “On” add onions. Cook for about 15 minutes until onions start to brown on the bottom of the pot. Add ginger, garlic and cut-up chicken. Saute another minute or two. Add carrots, potatoes, apple, curry powder, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.

    Press “Cancel” to stop saute process.

Turn Instant Pot to “Saute” setting. Once pot is hot and reads “On” add onions. Cook for about 15 minutes until onions start to brown on the bottom of the pot. Add ginger, garlic and cut-up chicken. Saute another minute or two. Add carrots, potatoes, apple, curry powder, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.

Press “Cancel” to stop saute process.

Pressure Cooking Curry

  1. Press “Meat/Stew” and set timer to 15 minutes.

    After timer goes off, either let Instant Pot naturally depressurize, or quick-release by turning steam release handle on the lid to “Venting” setting.

Press “Meat/Stew” and set timer to 15 minutes.

After timer goes off, either let Instant Pot naturally depressurize, or quick-release by turning steam release handle on the lid to “Venting” setting.

Thickening Curry

  1. To thicken curry, mix together cornstarch and water. Turn Instant Pot to “Saute” mode. Stir in cornstarch slurry and cook a few minutes until curry thickens.

To thicken curry, mix together cornstarch and water. Turn Instant Pot to “Saute” mode. Stir in cornstarch slurry and cook a few minutes until curry thickens.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono

If you like this Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken recipe, you might also like to try:

Slow Cooker Chinese Curry Chicken

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chicken Curry

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Source: Jeanettes Healthy Living

Slow Cooker Turkey Bean Chili Recipe Jeanettes Healthy Living

Slow Cooker Turkey Bean Chili is a crowd pleaser, with umami from mushrooms and smoky ancho and chipotle chili flavor. It’s budget-friendly, so perfect for entertaining large groups. chili. Set up self-serve toppings for a fun, interactive meal with good friends and family.

Slow Cooker Turkey Bean Chili - budget-friendly, delicious and a crowd pleaser - great for parties and family gatherings

We’re in the thick of winter and stews, chili and soups have been on our weekly menus lately. During the wintertime, our bodies crave rich foods, and oftentimes, these foods are heavier and higher in fat. During the holiday season, I’ve been trying to satisfy these cravings with comfort food that’s been lightened up, without sacrificing on flavor or heartiness.

This Slow Cooker Turkey Bean Chili is heavier on the beans than on the turkey. I use whatever beans I have on in my pantry – black beans or red beans of any variety. That means, more fiber and plant based protein, with the added benefit of being a low-cost family meal, great for entertaining too. Love it when that happens. Mushrooms add some nice meaty flavor with far fewer calories. Chopped up fine, they meld right into this chili and add some bulk.

Toppings make this slow cooker turkey bean chili the best, and there’s no shortage of them here. Have some fun with your favorite toppings, whether it’s chopped avocado, red onions, scallions, jalapenos, cheese or Greek yogurt. Corn muffins or cornbread on the side are a wonderful accompaniment.

Slow Cooker Turkey Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground toasted cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • ½-1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder depending on desired spice leve
  • 7 cups cooked black beans or red beans 1 pound dried beans, cooked
  • 28 ounces can whole tomatoes chopped up in food processor
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup bean cooking liquid or low-sodium chicken broth

Garnishes

  • Chopped avocado
  • chopped scallions
  • low-fat Greek yogurt
  • low-fat shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add ground turkey and cook until browned and cooked through. Add oregano, cumin, chili powder, ancho chili powder, and chipotle chili powder. Stir well and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add black beans, tomatoes, bean cooking liquid, and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Pour chili into a crockpot and cook on low 6 hours to develop flavors. Alternatively, continue cooking chili on the stovetop on low heat for 1 hour.
  3. Serve with variety of garnishes on the side.

Serve with variety of garnishes on the side.

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Source: Jeanettes Healthy Living

Slow Cooker Lentil Smoked Ham Soup Jeanettes Healthy Living

This simple Slow Cooker Lentil Smoked Ham Soup is so flavorful, no one will guess just how easy it is to make. I love smoky flavors and one of the easiest ways to infuse soups with smoke is to add a ham bone or smoked turkey parts. At a recent holiday party, one of the guests was given a little package to take home – a ham bone from that evening. We had a good laugh because we understood what that bone could do for a pot of soup.

Slow Cooker Lentil Smoked Ham Soup - made with mineral rich chicken bone broth and a smoky ham bone, this simple lentil soup is rich and flavorful

A number of years ago, I took a cooking class with a local French chef and he made the most incredible lentil soup. The recipe was so simple, yet the soup had such flavor that I still remember that bowl of soup. The key to his lentil soup was simply adding some smoked ham. I have to confess my love for smokey flavors. You might remember my Smashed Avocado Toast with Smoked Salmon and Egg, Smoked Avocado Salsa, Smokey Gouda Macaroni and Cheese, Smokey Peruvian Chicken, Smoked Red Curry Coconut Chicken, Wok Smoked Tea Fish and Wok Smoked Tea Chicken.

In my book, smoke is akin to a spice – it’s a flavor enhancer for sure. Whether you’re actually smoking food or using smoked ingredients (e.g., smoked Spanish paprika, smoked salt, smoked salmon or smoked turkey or ham), just a touch of smokiness can really bring a dish to whole new level.

Recently, I found a piece of smoked ham bone that was humanely raised, uncured (no nitrates), antibiotic-free and hormone-free at Whole Foods. That’s a mouth-full, but the reason I mention that is I try to avoid foods that are unnatural, or that have been treated with chemicals. I love smoked foods, but I eat them in moderation, so when I do enjoy them, I try to make sure they are prepared in the cleanest way (hormone-free, antibiotic-free, preservative-free).

This simple Slow Cooker Lentil Smoke Ham Soup recipe is so flavorful, no one will guess just how easy it is to make. I served this soup to friend recently on a day when it was just 18 degrees outside, and it was a real belly warmer. We each enjoyed a bowl of this soup along with this Quinoa Beet Kale Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Salad.

Slow Cooker Lentil Smoked Ham Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 carrots peeled, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 cup lentils I used sprouted lentils, rinsed and rained
  • 1 piece uncured smoked ham bone
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Fines Herbes
  • 3 cups salt-free or low sodium chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add carrots, celery, onions and garlic; saute 4-5 minutes until onions are softened. Transfer to slow cooker and add lentils, smoked ham bone, bay leaf, thyme, Fines Herbes and chicken broth. Cook on high for 4 hours.

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Source: Jeanettes Healthy Living

Browned Butter Banana Bread Jeanettes Healthy Living

Browned Butter Banana Bread is an indulgent breakfast or afternoon treat made a little healthier by swapping in some whole wheat pastry flour. Growing up, my mom made banana bread a lot. Her go-to recipe was from the Fannie Farmer cookbook. I love that recipe, but it is actually a cake, not a quick bread, more delicate and dessert-like. This banana bread is somewhere in between, with a tender, moist crumb. Make this for gifts or serve to guests during the holiday season for a special treat.

Browned Butter Banana Bread - decadently delicious, made a little healthier with whole wheat pastry flour

This browned butter banana bread is adapted from a recipe from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg, a gift from my kids last Christmas. After volunteering for a year in a commercial kitchen and watching a professional pastry chef create the most beautiful baked goods, I was inspired to improve my baking skills. Baking requires a lot more precision than cooking. Several years ago, when I was learning how to bake gluten-free, I was introduced to the concept of ratios and weighing ingredients when baking.

Although I don’t usually weigh out ingredients when baking, I did for this recipe because the original recipe’s ingredients were listed with weights. This was also important since I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half the regular bread flour. So, 170 grams of whole wheat pastry flour ended up being 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon versus bread flour at 1 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon.

I converted everything back to cups and tablespoons to make it easier for you if you don’t have a measuring scale and want to try this recipe.

Browning the butter adds extra caramel-like flavor to this banana bread, and the crust was especially delicious. I did bake the loaf pans on top of a baking sheet to prevent the bottoms from getting too dark as suggested in the original recipe.

Browned Butter Banana Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 13 tablespoons unsalted organic butter
  • 1 3/4 cups organic sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Melt butter in a saucepan and continue to cook over medium low heat until brown bits form on bottom of pan. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly; then stir in sugar. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, bananas and vanilla and beat until well combined.

    In a separate bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, bread flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually add to banana batter and mix until just combined.

    Divide between two 8″ loaf pans. Bake 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a saucepan and continue to cook over medium low heat until brown bits form on bottom of pan. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly; then stir in sugar. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, bananas and vanilla and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, bread flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually add to banana batter and mix until just combined.

Divide between two 8″ loaf pans. Bake 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg

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Source: Jeanettes Healthy Living