When you’re thinking about, working with and helping others get access to food as often as we are at Chester County Food Bank, it’s impossible to ignore the significance that the holidays can have for our neighbors in need. For many families in Chester County, even if they can get by week to week, the big, festive meals that for many of us are a time of joy can present lots of extra stress.
Our partnerships with local food pantries and our ongoing programs like our Senior Food Boxes, which provide nutritious ingredients to nearly 800 seniors in our region, help to ease the burden for families during the holidays and all year long.
As we round the corner to the winter holidays ahead, we wanted to remind you that preparing food for special gatherings doesn’t have to be an overwrought or expensive undertaking. Even if you love to cook, it can be hard to eke out the time or spend extra on specialty ingredients at the market. And while we all love to tuck into our favorite comfort foods around the holiday table, extravagance is not what these holidays are about. They are about togetherness, love and gratitude.
One of the things that we’re grateful for is that our favorite holiday side dishes require little more than a few veggies, a handful of herbs, a splash of milk or broth and a good recipe to guide the way. Here are four recipes from our collection for simple, affordable and nutritious holiday dishes that you can bring to the table this year:
Maple Glazed Squash: This recipe is a multi-tasker since it could be breakfast, a side dish or even a healthy dessert! With a dozen common varieties readily available, winter squash is a delicious nutrient-dense root veggie. This recipe is flexible for any variety and you could even include some sweet potatoes or carrots.
Roasted Beet & Kale Salad: Though it used to be a bit more of a “health food” staple, kale has risen through the ranks of the food world to become a mainstream veggie. And we’re glad for it, too: Our farm-grown kale is bursting with vitamins and minerals. This recipe featured as a Fresh2You recipe bundle this past season includes leeks but those can easily be substituted with red or yellow onions. A quick massage with olive oil tames the kale’s crunchy texture, and the bright slightly sweet dressing will have guests reaching for seconds. The salad is a lighter addition to the holiday menu.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese: Mac & Cheese is a holiday tradition for many families but it can also be one of the most calorie-laden. That’s why we appreciate this healthier take (but oh-so-delicious) on a classic dish. Butternut squash brings a little sweetness and creaminess enabling for less cheese. Don’t think of this one just for the holidays, this is a keeper for the entire winter. This also freezes well so make a little extra for a snowy day ahead.
Applesauce Cinnamon Oat Muffins: Lots of cookies to go around during the holidays so this muffin is a guilt free treat. These muffins are freezer-friendly so make a batch to grab on busy mornings or for a healthy snack. This is a great base recipe so feel free to change it up by adding bananas, raisins or even some roasted butternut squash.
Want to learn more? Check out our mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate food, funds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or requesting a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.
The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.
Featured photo: Pixabay; all other photos: Chester County Food Bank