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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

‘Tis the Season for Living Well

Contributed by Seasons 52

This is truly the season for living life to the fullest. But living well also includes the things we do to make our lives better. Like getting and staying in shape. And nurturing ourselves with flavorful, healthy foods. Since you’re reading this blog, you’re most likely already getting the exercise you need (and hopefully we’ll see you at the Seasons 52 Park Ave. 5.2k on January 21st.) So we’d like to offer you some creative and simple ways to live well via your kitchen this season, courtesy of Seasons 52 Executive Chef Clifford Pleau.

We begin with the creamy dips that are a must for any holiday party, and the rich sauces that add such depth to your favorite entrĂ©es. Chef Pleau encourages you to keep dipping and pouring—it’s the holidays, after all—but consider replacing the heavy, high-fat ingredients with nonfat cottage cheese, nonfat sour cream, nonfat yogurt or silken tofu. You’ll dramatically reduce the fat and calories, and it’s likely your guests won’t even notice the difference.
Another way to lighten things up is to eliminate the need for buttering or greasing pans before baking by coating your pans with extra virgin olive oil applied with a spray bottle—it coats evenly and reduces the amount you need to use. Or, if you prefer to go even lighter, consider using non-stick pans that require no pre-baking prep at all.
And then there are wonderful things you can do with vegetables. Roasting brings out the boldest flavor in vegetables, and roasting them in their jackets concentrates their flavors even more. (It also helps to lock in the nutrients.) Beets, carrots, onions, and plum tomatoes all taste better roasted, if we do say so ourselves, and make a wonderful accompaniment to so many holiday dishes.
It might seem counterintuitive at this time of year, but one of Chef Pleau’s most helpful tips is to keep flavors simple. Overloading a dish with too many ingredients may only confuse the palette. That’s not to say you shouldn’t combine flavors in creative ways, but sometimes less really is more.
This is a joyful time of year. A time to look back fondly at the year that was, to celebrate the holidays at hand, and to look ahead to the year to come. It is our wish for you that this year was memorable, that these holidays are festive, and that next year finds you living well. From all of us at Seasons 52, best wishes to you and yours.

(creamy / low fat)

1 cup red pepper, roasted & pureed
1 cup cottage cheese, low fat
1 tablespoon cumin seed, toasted & ground fine
1 teaspoon blackening spice
¼ cup lime juice, fresh (2 each)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Chipotle Tabasco

Procedure:• Prepare fresh roasted and peeled peppers or use a drained jar of pimientos. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

This recipe serves as an excellent dip for artichokes and grilled vegetables, a sauce for grilled chicken and fresh fish or a dressing over a tossed greens salad.
Makes: 16 oz