A healthy holiday meal with Amanda Walton

Story by David Warren & Photos by W Photography

There are certain words that traditionally don’t go together well; an enjoyable trip to the dentist and healthy holiday fare. Well, things change. The dentist has much less painful tools and now there is Amanda Walton who says that holiday recipes don’t have to start with two sticks of butter and half a cup of sugar.

Amanda Walton has been a resident of Hilton Head Island for 16 years, but is originally from upstate New York. When she’s not running her small catering business, she enjoys traveling and training for triathlons.

Walton is a triathlete who realized that training is only as good as your diet. She has brought her athletic training to the health field as a health and nutrition coach. She believes that a diet is not the answer to good health. Walton teaches a lifestyle change that combines food and exercise. As she says,“You can’t exercise away a bad diet.“

Amanda attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and started Well Fed to train people how to live a happier and healthier life. She assists not only athletes but everyone in eating and being well. She does not feel that specific diet changes are as significant as lifestyle changes.

It’s easy to get caught up in the holidays. The celebrations that come with the season can be the ruin of any diet and add the pounds and inches that could take months or years to lose. When looking at the holidays, we need to focus on the spirit of the season and not the cakes and cookies, which are but a byproduct. By making a few conscious decisions regarding holiday eating, we can get through to New Year’s Day without letting our pants out or making draconian resolutions that surely will be broken by February.

When it comes to holidays, Walton is not a proponent of strict rules or impossible restrictions. “Holidays are a special time, and one of the wonderful parts of the holidays is dining together with friends and family. You can indulge, but remember that the people around the table are really what matters.” Amanda feels that by changing some of the ingredients in the traditional favorites, you can still enjoy a delicious holiday treat without the fat and calories. She thinks that combining the holidays with exercise, and by limiting yourself to a few indulgences, you can survive the season without substantial weight gain.

The following dishes (turn the page) can be served anytime but make for excellent holiday treats that are delicious and won’t add additional calories and resulting weight gain that has become an unwanted part of the American holiday tradition.

Perfectly Roasted Chicken


1 whole roaster chicken (if possible purchase organic, no hormones/antibiotics)

Kitchen twine

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon olive oil


[1] Pre-heat your oven to 425. While the oven is preheating, use the kitchen twine to tie the legs together. Use the olive oil to mildly coat the bird so the seasoning sticks and rub with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder mixture. [2] Roast for 15 minutes per pound (make sure this is exact- a 4.3-pound bird should cook for 64.5 minutes). When finished roasting, cover with foil and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes. Carve and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad


2 cups cooked quinoa

1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted

One bunch arugula

1/2 red onion, diced

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries


Toss all ingredients and cover with balsamic dressing (recipe below).

Ingredients (balsamic dressing)

3 tablespoons of dijon mustard

3 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper

Cayenne pepper, to taste

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil


Mix all ingredients and enjoy.

Almond Meal and Dark Chocolate Chips Cookies

Ingredients (makes about 20 cookies)

1 1/2 cups almond meal

1/4 cup small dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


[1] In a large bowl, mix the almond meal, dark chocolate chips, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar. [2] Add the egg, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and mix until combined. Put the bowl in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight). [3] Preheat oven to 375. Roll the balls into 1 inch balls (I use a scoop) and place on a baking sheet with an inch of space between each. Gently press down the tops to flatten. Bake until the edges are brown, 7-10 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Make it? We’ll take it!

Recreate these three dishes (recipes on page 96) then send a photo to info@wearelocallife.com. We’ll pick a winner and share the winner.

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