Healthy Holidays, Adirondack Style
Nov
20
2014

Saranac Lake loves the holiday season. We have a lively and dedicated wellness community who support our local farms and advocate for healthy eating. This lets them come up with new takes on old favorites.

Very adirondack appetizer

If we haven't been thinking "Adirondacks" when we think "cheese" we haven't been doing it right. Many local farms have used the milk from their cows, sheep, and goats to expand into cheesemaking. The results are wonderfully complex and authentic artisan cheeses.

The same goes for our local jams. We are an excellent climate for apples, berries, and plums. These small-batch jam makers pride themselves on using more fruit and less sugar. This results in maximum taste, and more of the antioxidants which makes fruit a nutritional asset.

Pairing cheese and jam is actually more healthful than we might realize. The protein and fat in the cheese buffers the effects of the sweet jam on our blood sugar. A gentler rise means a smoother "fall" as our body manages the flow of sugar into our system.

one cheese & chutney combo, using cheddar and fruit preserves

Cheese has high levels of vitamin K2, which recent research indicates is highly beneficial for strong bones, preventing cardiovascular disease, and promoting brain function. K2 is especially abundant in grassfed milk and cheese, which describes our Adirondack artisan cheeses.

And the recipe could not be easier:

Cheese and Chutney Pairups

  • Variety of cheeses from different flavor families - for example choose cheddar, romano, and blue to contrast with more mellow choices like havarti, gouda, and camembert.
  • Choice of different jams for topping. As seen above, we have a delicate tart plum and a hearty, slightly sweeter, mixed berry. Sweet choices contrast well with salty & sharp cheeses, while jams with a bit of tartness, or mixed with a spice like cinnamon or ginger, will wake up a quieter cheese.
  • Slice hard cheeses, but more textured cheeses like blues, mozzarella, and feta do better when served as chunks. A soft chevre or warm Brie might need a spreading utensil.

Vegan tip: Vegans can have the K2-rich option of natto, fermented soybeans which have a very pungent smell and flavor, not unlike a rowdy, well-aged, cheese. Gluten free tip: All ingredients are gluten free.

Get local cheeses and jams at Nori's Village Market, which also has a deli and snack bar.

sassier side dish

While we do put many vegetables on the holiday table, we often feel the need to "dress them up" for such an occasion. They wind up with starchy sauces, prefab additions, or topped with marshmallows. All of these options will increase a vegetable's glycemic index. A little creativity makes them festive and delicious, without undercutting their healthy qualities.

Ginger-Orange Carrot Terrine

  • fresh carrots, sliced in varied thickness from 1/2 inch or less, 2 1/2 cups
  • optionally, some of that quantity can be other compatible and colorful produce, like purple carrots, beets of any color, up to half a cup of fresh pineapple and/or fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 14 ounces goat cheese
  • Use a 4x8 loaf pan lined with parchment paper, with enough excess to hang over the edge to cover the contents.
  • Cook the scrubbed or pared vegetables in a lidded pan with water to cover, on medium heat. Cook long enough for them to be fork-tender (30-40 minutes on stove, 4-5 minutes in microwave on high with 12 cups water and covered dish.) Leave fruits, if using them, fresh.
  • Mix goat cheese with the ginger and orange ingredients.
  • Now the fun begins! And we can let well-washed, little hands, help. Layer the vegetables/fruits on the bottom of the loaf pan, then cover with a layer of the mixed goat cheese, and repeat until we reach the top of the pan. Divide up the produce layers into six equal parts, so there will be twelve layers in total. Vary the sizes and colors.
  • Cover with the overlapping parchment paper. Place a shaped weight on top of the pan (a bag of sugar works well) and leave it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Leave in refrigerator until ready to cut into thin slices for serving.

One of the great things about a terrine is how we can make it ahead and let one less thing need doing on the big day.

Vegan tip: It's possible to create a goat cheese substitute with tofu, flavorings, and a food processor. Ask your vegans to give it a try first, to make sure they are happy with the results. Gluten free tip: All ingredients are gluten-free.

This dish was inspired by the beet & herbed goat cheese terrine (seen above) from Lakeview Deli & Catering.

almost pie

If we want to be all-American about our all-American holidays, we can't do better than cobblers, which were invented in the American colonies. The English settlers were desperate for treats, but their traditional holiday puddings were tricky to recreate due to lack of the usual ingredients and different cooking equipment. But nobody stands between us and dessert. We'll figure out something.

I've made the traditional recipe healthier by lowering the sugar and replacing the usual grains with nuts and nut flours. This lets the fruit shine, while we dig in knowing that crunchy crust is giving us omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, and vital minerals... instead of empty calories.

an apple/berry crumble (licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Apple Berry Healthier Cobbler

  • Filling is 4 large apples, sliced and peeled, plus 2 cups berries of choice; or any combination
  • 2 Tbsp soft butter
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp honey (optional)
  • Mix all ingredients and fill a 9x9 greased baking dish
  • Topping is 1/3 cup almond or other nut flour (can be ground in food processor from any nut)
  • 3/4 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 Tsp sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Mix topping ingredients and add 1 tbl of water (if needed) at a time to get the consistency of a fluffy snowball; it packs, but a nudge will collapse it. Sprinkle topping on top of fruit and cover with foil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake, with foil on top, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes to brown the crust. If using a metal dish, the ingredients can be assembled and the foil covered pan refrigerated overnight for baking the next day. Just go from fridge to oven and add ten minutes to the initial baking time. With a glass dish, let it come to room temperature before going into a 325 degree oven.

Vegan tip: Use palm or coconut oil instead of butter, 3/4 cup applesauce instead of the 3 eggs. Gluten free tip: Recipe is gluten free.

Get fresh-picked local apples at one of our TOPS Friendly Markets.

souped up leftovers 

There's nothing more Adirondack than turkey. We grow our own. When that tasty bird has been eaten, don't forget that leftovers should include the bones.

Adirondack turkeys - the real thing!

Not all those turkey slices should be destined for sandwiches. Hold some back to dice up for turkey soup. Use the bones to make a wonderful stock which has amazing health powers.

Traditional societies used the bones (and feet, if you have them) to create soup that is an source of vital minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It boosts the immune system, improves digestion, and adds hard-to-get amino acids and collagen content to our diets.

Turkey Bones Stock

  • cooked turkey carcass
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • water to cover
  • Place in large pot. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the vinegar to work on the bones. Then add:
  • 1 onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery (roughly chopped)
  • bring to a boil, then let simmer for 24 hours
  • In the first few hours, a frothy layer will form and need to be skimmed off. Simmer uncovered, check every 20 minutes and skim until the froth stops forming. Then cover.
  • When the simmer has completed, strain into glass jars (up to five days in the refrigerator) or into freezer containers for long term storage.

Now use the stock as the base for a favorite turkey soup recipe.

Vegan tip: None -- Tofurkey has no bones. Gluten free tip: Skip the noodles and use rice, or, for added nutrition, kale.

Inspired by the homemade soups featured at Lake Clear Lodge and Retreat.

Come for the holidays

It might seem like our abundant evergreen trees, lush white snow, sunny alpine climate, and horse drawn sleighs give us an unfair advantage in the holiday celebration department. 

It probably does.

Find snuggly lodging. Explore our dining. Find gifts. We have it all.

Author:Pamela Merritt
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