It's not uncommon for dieters to use holidays as an excuse to eat unhealthy food, or to use their children as an excuse to make sugary and simple recipes. However, there are plenty of recipes out there that are actually good for you along with being just as fun and family-friendly as the junky stuff.

Some party favorites, like chili, need few alterations to fit into a healthy diet. Others, like our meatballs, need only a few simple swaps: make your own marinara sauce instead of relying on the store-bought kind, and pour over cabbage or konjac noodles rather than starchy spaghetti. Then, instead of heavy apple pie for dessert, why not just enjoy the apples themselves with some stevia and antioxidant-rich cinnamon?

You could always cut back on the spices if you have a few picky eaters, or make a special side dish or sauce for the kids while the parents stick to the good stuff. It's never too early to start teaching your children lifelong healthy habits and introducing them to more mature meals!

Apple Slices with Cinnamon Sauce  

Ingredients

  • 1 apple sliced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Powdered stevia to taste

Directions

In the microwave or small saucepan heat the liquid and spice ingredients together stirring constantly. Serve in a small dipping bowl and serve with chilled apple slices or other fruit. Makes 1 serving (1 fruit).

Phase 3 modifications

Dissolve spices in lemon juice. Whisk in small cubes of cold butter to make a sauce. Add rum extract or vanilla. Sauté apple slices in spiced butter mixture.

Baked Italian Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 100 grams lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic crushed and minced
  • 1 serving Melba toast crumbs

Directions

Combine meat, crumbs and spices and mix thoroughly. Form into balls. Place into baking dish and cover with marinara sauce. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve hot over cabbage or konjac noodles. Garnish with fresh basil. Makes 1 serving (1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 Melba toast).

Phase 3 modifications

Top with sliced provolone cheese or mozzarella cheese and bake until brown and bubbly. Top with grated Parmesan.

Marinara Sauce

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon onion (chopped fine)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • Pepper if desired

Directions

Combine all in a blender.

Chili

Ingredients

  • 100 grams lean ground beef (less than 7% fat)
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed and minced
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Brown ground beef in small frying pan, add onions and garlic. Stir in tomatoes and water. Add spices and simmer slowly until liquid is reduced. The longer it cooks the more tender and flavorful. Add a little water as needed to prevent burning. Serve with chopped green onion or tomato garnish and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 1 serving (1 protein, 1 vegetable).

Phase 3 modifications

Top with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

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