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Party Hearty with Healthy Holiday Recipes

Spinach casserole, sweet potato mousse and holiday mocktail

Holiday parties aren’t exactly known for their healthy options, but it’s possible to host a festive feast without having to choose between health and flavor. 


Chef and caterer extraordinaire Flor Franco knows a thing or two about hosting a health-conscious shindig. The San Diego Magazine Caterer of the Year recently overhauled her menu to focus on sustainable foods, locally grown produce and special touches like the adaptogenic lion’s mane mushroom powder in her holiday mocktail. 


“Every single ingredient was chosen to be healthy,” she says. “When you have the right ingredients, you don’t need so much butter or milk or things that are not necessarily super healthy.”  


Here are three healthy holiday recipes:

1. Portobello and spinach casserole (makes four servings)

A healthy Portobello and spinach casserole dish shared by chef and caterer extraordinaire Flor Franco.

1. Portobello and spinach casserole (makes four servings)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 pounds organic cooked spinach 
  • 4 portobellos thinly sliced 
  • ½ cup unsweetened cashew milk 
  • ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs 
  • ½ cup crispy onions 
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil 
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 1 dash cumin 
  • 1 dash paprika 
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan 
  • Salt, to taste 


Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add avocado oil and sliced mushrooms, sauté until softened and set aside. Add spinach to pan and sauté until soft. Remove all excess water and set aside. 


In a mixing bowl, add mushrooms, spinach, cashew milk, half of the olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well. 


Add half of the mixture to a casserole dish, then layer the remaining olive oil and half of the breadcrumbs. Top with the final layer of mixed spinach and mushrooms. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs and parmesan on top and bake for 30 minutes. 


Nutrition facts:

1 serving, calories: 334.3, fat: 23.6 g, saturated fat: 5.5 g, cholesterol: 5.4 mg, sodium: 495.6 mg, carbohydrates: 24.7 g, fiber: 6.2 g, protein: 9.9 g  

2. Sweet potato mousse (makes four servings)

2. Sweet potato mousse (makes four servings)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes 
  • 8 ounces low-fat coconut milk 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 dash cardamom powder 
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt 


Directions: 

Place sweet potatoes and cinnamon stick in a large pot, fill with cold water and boil until potatoes are soft. Drain all water and blend in small batches with coconut milk, cardamom and salt until smooth and fluffy. Place mixture in large bowl and stir to combine batches and serve. 


Nutrition facts: 

1 serving, calories: 231.9, fat: 3.1 g, saturated fat: 2.2 g, cholesterol: 0 mg, sodium: 271.5 mg, carbohydrates: 48.6 g, fiber: 7.2 g, protein: 3.6 g  

3. Holiday mocktail (makes one serving)

A holiday mocktail made with unsweetened cranberry juice,  orange juice and sparkling water - SD Health Magazine

3. Holiday mocktail (makes one serving)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ounces unsweetened cranberry juice 
  • 2 ounces orange juice 
  • 2 ounces sparkling water 
  • ½ teaspoon lion’s mane mushroom powder 
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup 


Directions: 

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and serve in a martini or wine glass. Garnish with a dehydrated or fresh citrus slice, fresh mint and a sprig of rosemary. 


Nutrition facts:

1 serving, calories: 67.3, fat: .2 g, saturated fat: 0 g, cholesterol: 0 mg, sodium: 2.2 mg, carbohydrates: 16.3g, fiber: .2g, protein: .7g 

SD Health Magazine Winter 2023 Cover

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.