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We all have familiar foods that we look forward to eating on special days of the year, such as on Thanksgiving. Your father may fry the turkey or your aunt may make a special green bean casserole. Many people balk at changing up tradition on these special days, but for the many of us that are now celebrating the holidays either away from our loved ones or with new families and friends, it can be worth looking for new ideas to mix up the line-up, especially if you are accommodating friends or relatives that have special dietary considerations such as a food allergy or are vegetarian.

I love suggesting adding flavorful vegetable side dishes to the table. They add key nutrition and can be easily made to fit different diet preferences. This dish is a nice, warm alternative to a salad, adds in a touch of sweet and is a little heartier than your average steamed vegetable side with the fruit and the nuts.  It is gluten free and vegan. You can make it with any leafy green, but I used swiss chard. If figs are not available, you could use raisins or currants.

Swiss Chard with Figs and Pine Nuts

Serves 4-6

2 pounds of swiss chard

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of chopped, dried figs

¼ cup of pine nuts

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Black pepper, to taste

Wash the greens and cut off any tough stalks. Boil the greens in a saucepan of water until just tender. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the figs and the pine nuts over moderate heat until the nuts are toasted and golden. Add the swiss chard and stir well. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat for another 3-4 minutes. Serve warm.

I hope you enjoy the kick off to the holiday season.

In health, Angela


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