Baptist Health Presents December's Quick, Easy and Delicious Recipes

In today’s hustle and bustle, fast and easy food choices seem like a natural fit…quick solutions to work, school, homework, afterschool activities and dinnertime dilemmas.

But all too often, healthy eating goals are the first to fly out the window while trying to balance work and family life demands. And while fast food restaurant chains are convenient, they are obviously not your most nutritious alternatives for meals.

There are, however, some choices you can make to keep yourself and your family on the road to eating healthier despite the pressures of daily life.

  • When fast food is your last resort, consider quick-cuisine spots like local grocery stores. Most good stores offer fully cooked roasted chickens ready for that dinnertime rush, which can replace those drive-through burgers.
  • Replace the greasy fries with a green salad and you’ll be a lot better off, or microwave a baked potato in just a few minutes.

My goal is to share with you fast and simple healthy recipes for the real world and to show you how simple it can be to stay on the healthy track, no matter how busy and stressful your life is.

Cooking healthier can be quick, easy and, most of all, delicious.

With the holiday season upon us, this is the perfect time to start. The holidays bring their own set of challenges: too much food, too many parties, too much stress, and too little time. So stay on track with these healthier options.



Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan

  • 12 cups cauliflower florets (about 2 heads)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Place cauliflower in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with oil; toss well to coat. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring every 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with parsley, thyme, tarragon and garlic. Bake 5 minutes.
  4. Combine cauliflower mixture, cheese, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well to combine.

Nutrtional Value: Calories: 89; Fat: 3.5g; Saturated fat: 0.8g; Monounsaturated fat: 2.1g; Polyunsaturated fat: 0.4g; Protein: 5.2g; Carbohydrate: 12.1g; Fiber: 5.4g; Cholesterol: 2mgSodium: 251mg


Wild Rice-and-Apricot Stuffing

  • Stuffing:
  • 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon stick margarine or butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • To prepare stuffing, bring 3 cups broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add wild rice; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until tender. Drain, and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Melt margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and chopped fennel; sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice, chopped apricots, and next  add thyme, salt, paprika, and black pepper.  Remove from heat.


Sweet Potato and Apple Soufflé

  • 3 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Combine apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the sweet potatoes and the syrup, butter, salt, and pepper. (Place the sweet potato mixture in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes, stirring after 25 minutes.
  3. Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form to measure 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, oil, and nutmeg; sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Value: Calories: 214; Fat: 3.4gl; Saturated fat: 1.3g; Monounsaturated fat: 1.4g; Polyunsaturated fat: 0.4g; Protein: 2.6g; Carbohydrate: 44.3g; Fiber: 4.6g; Cholesterol: 3.9mg;Sodium: 218mg


Roast Turkey with Apple-Cider Glaze

  • 1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen whole turkey, thawed
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 (1-ounce) bunch parsley sprigs
  • 2/3 cup apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans low-salt chicken broth
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk


  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Stuff cavities of turkey with quartered apple, onion, and parsley sprigs. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.
  3. Combine apple sauce, sugar, mustard, and nutmeg in a small bowl; stir well. Spread apple mixture under loosened skin and rub into the body cavity. Sprinkle bird with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and ground red pepper.
  4. Pour broth and enough water to equal 3 cups liquid into the bottom of the pan. Place turkey on a rack coated with cooking spray; place rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer into meaty part of thigh, making sure not to touch bone. Bake at 325° for 3 hours or until thermometer reaches 160°. Let stand 10 minutes.
  5. Remove turkey from pan, reserving 2 1/2 cups cooking liquid
  6. Combine 1 ½ cup reserved cooking liquid and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and stir until smooth. Stir in reserved 1 cup broth, cider, and milk, and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered 3 minutes, stirring constantly until thick. Stir in remaining salt and black pepper.

Nutritional Value: Calories: 372; Fat: 10g; Saturated fat: 3.2g; Monounsaturated fat: 2.2g; Polyunsaturated fat: 0.8g ; Protein: 53.4g; Carbohydrate: 13.4g; Cholesterol: 130mg; Sodium: 524mg


Popcorn Brittle

  • Cooking spray
  • 5 1/2 cups popcorn, popped without salt or fat
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Line a baking sheet with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place popcorn in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Crush popcorn using a meat mallet or rolling pin; set aside.
  3. Combine sugar, syrup, and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 270° (about 8 minutes). Stir in molasses and butter; cook until thermometer registers 290° (about 5 minutes). Stir in baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Stir popcorn into boiling syrup mixture. Working quickly, pour popcorn mixture onto prepared pan; spread to 1/4-inch thickness using a wooden spoon coated with cooking spray. Cool completely; break into large pieces.
  4. Store brittle in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutritional Value:  Calories: 165; Fat: 1.1g; Saturated fat: 0.5g; Monounsaturated fat: 0.4g; Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g; Protein: 0.5g; Carbohydrate: 39.9g; Fiber: 0.6g; Cholesterol: 3mg;Sodium: 123mg


About Chef Richard
Chef Richard Plasencia, executive chef at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, joined Baptist Health South Florida in 2011. He is an award-winning chef who is passionate about creating and sharing fresh local and seasonal recipes seasoned with flavor and good health. In addition to an interest in nutrition, Chef Richard has an extensive history in the hospitality industry. He’s served as Chef at Town Kitchen & Bar, Jake’s, the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, the Shore Club, Por Fin, and the Conrad Hotel. He also was also part of several teams that received the Mobile 4 and 5 star awards, as well as Cioppino being named to America’s Top 50 restaurants by Esquire Magazine 2005, during his time at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne.  Chef Richard Plasencia graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary arts.

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