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Healthy Living Recipes

Deb Morgan: Every fall I start to strategize my holiday party plans. At the focus of any holiday party, of course, is the food and, luckily, planning what to serve is my favorite part. So to assist you in your own gatherings this fall and beyond, this month I share two of my favorite appetizers. At Kripalu, I make these for our Board of Trustee dinners and other gatherings, and they are always a hit. Have fun, and remember—food tastes better the more it is shared.

Puff Pastry Wraps

1 box all natural puff pastry
1 small bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 ounces soft goat cheese (chévre)
10 dates
20 almonds

For asparagus-goat cheese wraps Wash asparagus and cut stalks in half. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and allow to marinate for at least an hour.

Remove puff pastry from the package and spread on a floured board. Roll the pastry out until it is slightly larger, then cut into 2-by-3-inch rectangles. Place a few stalks of asparagus in the center of each rectangle, along with a dollop of goat cheese. Roll pastry around filling and pinch to seal. Set aside to bake.

For almond-date wraps Soak almonds in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes, until skins soften and can easily be pulled off. Remove all almond skins. Cut the dates in half and remove the pits. Place an almond in each date half and squeeze the date around the almond. Cut puff pastry into 2-by-3-inch rectangles and wrap around the date. Set aside to bake.

To serve Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pastry wraps on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve as is, or drizzle with a little balsamic reduction. (To make a balsamic reduction, simmer balsamic vinegar on medium-low heat until it is reduced by about one third.)

Read Kathie Swift’s nutritional commentary: Live Longer (and Better) with Goat Cheese

The melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese in these wraps delivers flavor and may even stoke your longevity genes, according to “Blue Zones” data. It’s believed that goat-milk products common in the diets of Sardinia may be a factor in living younger, longer. In this recipe, the goat cheese is partnered with other superfoods, including asparagus and almonds, for a nutrient-dense delight.


Makes about 1 cup.

1 red bell pepper
2 plum tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
⅓ to ½ cup toasted almonds
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
½ cup toasted whole-grain bread cubes (optional)

Toss the red pepper, tomatoes, and garlic with 1 tablespoons of the oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in a baking pan and roast at 400°F until the pepper is charred and the tomatoes and garlic have softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Pour off any oil and liquid from the baking pan and reserve. Remove the skin and seeds from the pepper and tomatoes and the skin from the garlic.

Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add the toasted bread, if using, and pulse until finely ground. Add the pepper, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and remaining oil. Puree to desired consistency, adjusting the consistency with the reserved juices.

Note The consistency will be thinner if the bread crumbs are omitted. Serve with crostini or as a dip for vegetables.

Read Kathie Swift’s nutritional commentary: The Three A’s: Antioxidants, Allium, and Anti-Inflammatories

This recipe has a high nutritional score, with its tasty combination of tomatoes rich in the antioxidant lycopene, allium-rich garlic, and anti-inflammatory extra virgin olive oil spiked with metabolism-boosting chilis—an appetizing dose of power-packed sustenance.