Have Yourself a Healthy Little Christmas

Happy holidays! I hope everyone reading this is stuffed to the gills with pie and ham and eggnog and booze and sugar cookies. That’s a good way to be. Dave and I have between three and four family Christmases to attend each year and the highlight is always the food. This, for our crazy Cruse appetites, means two dinner plates each and a dessert plate, at every meal. WHOA. Hey, we love life! What can I say? A delicious practice, gorging ourselves, but fleeting and not without serious après-holiday plumping effects.


This year, Dave’s mama suggested a healthy Christmas Eve feast- novel idea! I assume some responsible families, somewhere (somewhere very far away from us, out of sight and mind) have been doing this for generations, but it was definitely a twist in our holiday routine. The menu included mashed sweet potatoes, Oaxacan eggplant spread, shrimp cocktail, quinoa salad, grilled salmon, and roasted pork tenderloin. Not a stick of butter in sight, and the meal was a huge hit! I’ve included all recipes below. What did you make? Does your family steer from the norm and go healthy during the holidays?

dinnah is served!

dinnah is served!


salmonGrilled Salmon with Herb Rub: just posted this Allez! recipe last week! Such an easy crowd pleaser.





OaxacanOaxacan Eggplant Spread: adapted from Gourmet magazine. Char eggplants and poblanos, peel, chop, and combine with white onion, cilantro, lime, and the kicker-  a habanero! Divine. This was the underdog Big Deal dish of the evening. We made it one before, in the summer- it’s really good with ice cold beer. Serve with corn tortillas or tortilla chips.




potatoesMashed Sweet Potatoes: clean, roughly chop, and boil 3-4 large sweet potatoes until tender (do not skin). Drain, return to pot, and mash with 1/2-3/4 c orange juice, 2-3 tbsp margarine, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of kosher salt. Taste and add more OJ/margarine/cinnamon/salt to taste.




quinoaQuinoa Salad with Avocado, Black Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes: adapted from MindBodyGreen. Cook and cool 1 cup quinoa according to package directions. When cool, add a whisked vinaigrette of the juice of a lime, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Add a handful chopped cilantro, 1 cup corn, a rinsed can of black beans, 10-12 halved cherry tomatoes, and a diced avocado. Adjust seasoning to taste.



tenderloinPork Tenderloin: we roasted a pre-seasoned pork tenderloin from the store, but here’s an Allez! rosemary pork tenderloin recipe from February, 2012.




Shrimp Cocktail: who has two thumbs and forgot a close-up? This girl! But no biggie- just buy shrimp and serve with cocktail sauce. BOOM.

I hope the holidays were wonderful for you and that 2014 is full of joy and success. And, as always, thank you for reading!


Merry Christmas!




Herb-Rubbed Salmon with Savory Oat Groats & Kale (gf)

My next stop on the one-way kale train I’ve been lately on was a tasty and versatile savory grain recipe. It was a win-win because of the kale and because I heart savory cooked grains. We were given a generous amount of groats from my husband’w coworker, who bought them by mistake. After Dave made them for breakfast several times with milk, cinnamon, and berries, I thought to myself “self, I bet we could get rid of these more quickly if I paired them with dinner.” And guess what? Well, there were still a LOT of groats left and we’re not quite through them and there are only two of us for Pete’s sake, but the new dish helped us slog through.

salmon and groats

I served this with salmon rubbed with my favorite herb rub and cooked in cast-iron. The fish can be grilled or broiled, so cook it however you’d like. The rub takes well to each of those cooking methods. If you don’t have kind coworkers to bless you with a windfall of oat groats, you can find them in the dry goods sections of health food stores or in larger grocery stores. You can usually buy them loose. Also, the groat recipe is vegan!

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 leeks, sliced into matchsticks and rinsed well in a colander
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 cup oat groats
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 large bunch kale, deveined and chopped into ribbons
  • cracked black pepper
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, the leek matchsticks, and 3 cloves of garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the carrot and the groats, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the stock, water, and salt and bring to a boil; when boiling, reduce heat and cover, cooking for 25-30 minutes.



Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium in a deep saucepan. Add the kale and garlic and saute about 3-4 minutes, until the kale has wilted. When the groats have cooked their 25-30 minutes, stir in the kale and garlic, cracked black pepper to taste, and the crushed red pepper. Voila! All done! I like to serve this dish with lemon wedges on the side.




Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 2 tsp dried minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • salmon fillets, 1-inch thick, skin on
  • olive oil


Okay, now for the fish! Heat your skillet over medium and add a teaspoon of olive oil. Add all rub ingredients in a food processor and blend well. This makes enough rub for a few go-rounds, so save what you don’t use in the fridge. You’ll be glad you did, this is good stuff right here.


Rub the salmon on both sides with olive oil. Take 1-2 tsp seasoning per filet and rub that onto the salmon flesh. Place the fillets in your skillet, skin side down, and cook 3-4 minutes, until about halfway done (you’ll see the color changing from dark pink to light). Flip over and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flaky. If you’re grilling or broiling, prep the same way but don’t flip. This rub is so flavorful, surprisingly so. It’s almost the only way i make salmon at home- I hope you like it! What rubs do you use on fish? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

kale. it's so hot right now.

kale. it’s so hot right now.