Kale for breakfast sounds great in this festive strata

Healthy Holiday Strata

Healthy Holiday Strata

TinaMarie Craven/ Hearst Connecticut Media

“I love the Christmas-tide, and yet, I notice this each year I live; I always like the gifts I get, But how I love the gifts I give!”

— Carolyn Wells

In the midst of holiday merrymaking, the body can sometimes become oversaturated with rich, fatty, and overly salty foods. This hectic season can sometimes take a toll on our digestive systems, so having a few healthy and restorative dishes on hand can be quite soothing. There is no greater gift than the gift of good health, and preparing a delicious life will help keep the body and mind in excellent condition.

Remember to hydrate with plenty of water during the holiday season. Alcohol and sugary beverages when consumed in excess, can deplete the body and leave you with a feeling of sluggishness and irritability. Start each morning with a big mug of warm water and fresh lemon juice to rehydrate and flush out toxins.

Eat several small meals a day to achieve a steady flow. Try satiating snacks such as raw, unsalted, whole almonds or walnuts. Give the nuts a quick toasting in either the oven or a toaster oven. This will crisp them up and provide much better flavor and texture. A bowl of hot oatmeal with banana, apple chunks or fresh berries is a perfect pick-me-up. For days when you will be running between the office, kid’s appointments and holiday events or shopping, pack peanut or almond butter sandwiches on whole grain bread, and include a few mandarin oranges. Their sweet juicy flavor makes them a favorite with children, and little hands will find them quite easy to peel.

For a natural and nourishing meal that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, consider a strata.

This egg-based casserole can be filled with a myriad of healthy vegetables and is a delectable dish during the holidays or any time. Anything goes for ingredients, from asparagus tips, roasted red peppers or tomato slices, to greens such as spinach, kale or arugula which will provide the body with plenty of immune boosting vitamins and minerals. Sauteed onions and garlic not only add fantastic flavor, but may help reduce inflammation with their anti-bacterial, and antioxidant content. The protein found in eggs is quite satisfying and will help sustain you until your next meal.

But most importantly, the gift you give to your family and yourself of a warm, comforting meal full of luscious flavor, will be most welcome during the holiday season!

May you be blessed with a healthy and happy holiday and a most delicious life!

Happy Holiday Strata

Serves 8

2 tablespoons butter

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

Ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 large bunch of fresh kale (washed, well dried, center rib removed) cut into ribbons or 1 bag of fresh baby spinach leaves

8 ounces of stale bread cubes (sourdough or baguette is nice)

8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar or a mixture of cheddar and Swiss cheeses

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

9 large eggs

2 3/4cups milk (skim is fine)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, cook until soft, translucent, and turning golden. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the thyme leaves over. Be careful not to burn the onion. Stir in kale or spinach and season with a bit more salt. Cook until greens wilt a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

Butter a 9x13 casserole. Cover bottom with bread cubes. Top with cheeses and cooked greens.

Whisk eggs and milk together, add mustard, a pinch more salt and pepper and nutmeg. Pour over bread mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and let sit for a bit until the pan is not so chilled. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until edges are browned and pulling away from the edge.

Remove from the oven, let cool for five minutes, then slice and serve.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener, and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.