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Healthy meals to balance out holiday treats

Have you had enough pie yet? I know, no such thing. We're in the holiday season now, people, which means there's something awful for you lurking around every corner. These are the cakes of dreams, the cakes that only come around once a year. It's OK to eat an entire holiday favorite with your husband in a single day, right?

Unfortunately, no, it is not right (I am doing it anyway). But to redeem myself, I'm providing you with some really easy, healthy dinner recipes that will help you maintain some balance this holiday season: a stuffed delicata squash, black bean and sweet potato tacos and a quick pork loin with kale.

You can make all of these recipes with in-season produce. Holiday farmers markets abound in the Berkshires and southern Vermont right now, and there's plenty of local fare to eat this time of year, including meat. All the markets I listed will have plenty to choose from. I went to the first Berkshire Grown holiday market in Williamstown before Thanksgiving and it was excellent — tons of vendors, lots of greens and brussels sprouts, and squash and potatoes, and onions and more, plus cheese, bread and other stuff to help get you through the winter.

Delicata squash stuffed with sausage and black rice (or beans and black rice)

Serves 2


1 delicata squash

1 cup crumbled, cooked sausage (or 1 cup white beans or chickpeas)

1 cup cooked black rice (you can also just use brown or wild rice)

½ onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350. Mix together garlic, onion, rice, sausage, salt and pepper together in bowl; add broth and stir. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scrape out seeds and fill each half with rice/sausage mix. Place in baking tray, cover with foil and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour. If desired, finish for 1 to 3 mins under the broiler (you can even add a little shredded cheese, but that's not that healthy!).

Black bean and sweet potato tacos

Serves 3-4


1 sweet potato, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 can black beans

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp paprika

½ chopped onion

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 package 4.5" corn tortillas

1 tsp olive oil


Heat oil in medium-size saucepan and add sweet potatoes, cumin, turmeric and paprika; saute for 5 to 7 minutes, then add onions and garlic. Cook until soft, around 2 to 3 minutes, then add black beans. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, until most liquid has been absorbed. Put filling into taco shells and enjoy.

Chili-rubbed pork loin with kale


1 pork loin, 1 to 1 ½ pounds

½ tbsp chili powder

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch of kale

1 finely chopped clove garlic

1-2 tbsp lemon juice



Preheat oven to 400. Rub pork loin with chili powder, oil and salt, and roast for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, flip pork loin over and roast another 25 minutes.

Melt 1 tbsp butter on stovetop, and add kale, garlic, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Cook until soft but still green, 5-10 minutes.

Holiday marketplaces

Pittsfield, Mass.: Lighthouse at the Boys and Girls Club, Dec. 12 and Jan. 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Bennington, Vt.: First Baptist Church, Dec. 12 and 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Great Barrington, Mass.: Mounument Valley Middle School, Dec. 19 and Jan. 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Williamstown, Mass.: Williams College Towne Field House, Dec. 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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