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’Tis a Gift to be Simple

Easy holiday recipes to reduce stress - and salt

Make wild rice stuffing a day ahead to reduce holiday stress.

A simple, stress-free Christmas. Is it possible? There is so much food to buy, so many people to feed, so much time to take. How do you fix a healthy, tasty meal for your family and friends, and still meet all the other demands in your life?

The answer comes in one word: SIMPLE.

Think of Christmas – like Thanksgiving – as a time to be thankful for the abundance we enjoy. Serve foods without all the “extras” that take time. Chances are, they obscure the real flavors you are aiming for, while adding extra fat and salt, two ingredients most of us don’t need.

Try simple ways to fix family favorites. At my house that includes my husband’s recipe for a simple rice stuffing you can make the day before. Its mellow flavor actually is enhanced by sitting overnight.

Fix a medley of in-season vegetables everyone likes. Toss a green salad and ask a guest to make dessert. Dinner is served!

You’ll have so much time left you can sit back and enjoy the holiday.

Rich’s Wild Rice Stuffing

4 Tbsp. butter or margarine

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup dried apricots, chopped

1 cup dried cherries, chopped

4 Tbsp. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried

4 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp. dried

1 cup diced water chestnuts, fresh or canned

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts

2 cups wild rice (OK to mix half long-grain white or brown rice if desired)

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water

  1. The day before, cook rice in low-sodium broth or water.

  2. While rice is cooking, sauté mushrooms, onion, apricots and cherries in butter.

  3. When rice is done, add with other ingredients to mushroom mixture. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Place in greased baking dish, cover and refrigerate.

  4. Next day: Toss in fresh herbs. Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or microwave until warm.

Oven Blasted Vegetables

Plan A: Yams, Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips.

Plan B: Asparagus, Baby Carrots, Green Onions, Broccoli, Green Beans, Cauliflower.

  1. An hour or so ahead, cut vegetables about the same size, 1-inch squares or so.

  2. Put in a bowl, drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and toss veggies.

  3. Remove turkey from oven when done. Increase heat to 450 degrees.

  4. Pour veggies onto greased baking sheet. Cook 8-10 minutes, stir and cook another 8-10 minutes. Test with fork for doneness.

  5. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese and 2 Tbsp. fruit/herb flavored vinegar. Serve immediately.

[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards: the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award and the Joel D. Kopple Award for significant contributions in renal nutrition. See more recipes at www.nwkidney.org.]