The term “healthy holidays” isn’t always the most popular thing to utter, but it is absolutely possible to maintain your healthy habits while enjoying your favorite traditional dishes and keeping the fun meter cranked. The key, as with every other day of year, is balancing indulgent fare with healthy, lighter options.
Many traditional holiday dishes are already healthy, it is what you add to them that determines how nutritious they are. The best holiday meals are balanced with vegetables, grains, and protein.
o Skinless turkey is a lean source of protein (white and dark meat are both good choices.)
o Non-starchy vegetables (like green beans, Brussels Sprouts, and leafy green salads) pack in nutrition without a lot of calories.
o Stuffing and your grain side dish can be whole grain.
o Double check that your menu has all the food groups and many colors and textures. Think “crunchy and colorful.”
Healthy Holiday Recipe “Hacks”
o For stuffing, use whole grains like Harmons 7 grain bread, or wild rice, and swap higher fat pork sausage for a chicken or turkey sausage.
o Use olive oil to replace some (or all!) the butter in recipes for a healthier fat profile.
o Try adding extra vegetables into your recipes to lighten them up.
o Add more celery and onion to your stuffing.
o Serve a simple side salad.
o Know that you aren’t a bottomless pit. Pace yourself and listen to your hunger and satiety cues. The law of diminishing returns applies here. The first bite is always the best. As we fill up, our enjoyment lessens.
Don’t feel like you need to “healthify” every dish.
o We all have those holiday recipes that we aren’t willing to change, and that’s OK.
o Balance is key, and enjoying the holiday is important. It’s a time to celebrate not to battle your guilt.
o Honor your feelings of hunger and fullness, and stop eating once you feel satisfied.
o Leftovers are SO good the next day. No need to overdo it now.
o One meal will NOT make or break a healthy diet.
Keep the Days and Weeks Balanced
o Continue your exercise routine.
o Don’t skip meals; if you’re going to splurge for a party or dinner, consider eating an energizing breakfast and lunch. Starting AND ending the day with a heavy meal will only drag you down.
Healthy Holiday Brunch Recipes
Spinach Feta Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
This gluten-free crowd pleaser is so simple and a great way to get some veggies in at breakfast—why didn’t we think of this earlier?
1 large sweet potato
1 teaspoon canola oil
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (5-ounce) bag arugula or baby greens mix
6 large eggs
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes into very thin rounds. A knife or mandolin both work well. Coat a pie dish with cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices, overlapping the edges so the bottom is completely covered. Cut the sweet potato rounds in half and fill around the edges of the pie dish; round side facing up. Once the entire dish is filled, spray with cooking spray lightly. Bake for 20 minutes.
While the crust is cooking, make the filling. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until tender (about 4-5 minutes). Add spinach; sauté until it begins to wilt—only a minute or two. Remove from heat. When crust is finished, remove from oven, turn heat up to 375° and arrange vegetable mixture on top of the crust.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, except the feta; stir with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into 4 (or more) wedges.
Nutrition Info for 1 piece (1/4 of recipe): 300 calories, 12 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 290 grams cholesterol, 580 mg sodium, 34 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar (0 grams added sugar), 14 grams protein
Fennel & Sunchoke Walnut Salad
Adapted from www.marthastewart.com
This refreshing winter salad gives brunch a delicious wake-up crunch. Tart apples, earthy sunchokes, and salty celery—the perfect combo! Sunchokes can be difficult to find, but Harmons often has them throughout the winter.
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
4 large celery stalks, thinly sliced, and 1/4 cup leaves chopped (optional)
1 head fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise, reserve fronds
3 small sunchokes (5 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons honey
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
Spread walnuts on a plate and toast in microwave for 30-60 seconds, being careful not to burn. They should have a nutty aroma.
In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, and salt. Whisk in oil and season with pepper.
Place sliced celery, celery leaves, fennel, sunchoke, apple, cranberries, and walnuts in a bowl and toss with dressing. Garnish with fennel fronds.
Nutrition Info for 1 cup: 110 calories, 5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 14 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar, 2 grams protein
Quinoa Avocado Grapefruit Salad
Ingredients For Dressing:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Ingredients For Salad:
1-2 medium ruby red grapefruit, supreme (1-2 cups sections, depending on how juicy you want it)
1 cup uncooked tri color quinoa
1 cup arugula micro greens
1 pomegranate, seeded (1 cup arils)
1 avocado, cubed
½ cup rough chopped roasted pecans or cashews*
Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. In a small-medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.
To make dressing combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and maple syrup. Mix well.
To assemble salad, pour quinoa into a serving bowl and toss with dressing. Pile on remaining ingredients. Salt, pepper, and add more lemon juice to taste, if needed. Enjoy!
*To roast nuts, place on a plate and microwave in 30 second increments, until they smell nutty and have a lightly toasted appearance.
Nutrition Info for 1 cup: 200 calories, 13 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 21 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 7 grams sugar, 4 grams protein