Healthy Holiday Recipes

Family traditions, reuniting with loved ones, and the familiar aroma of favorite seasonal dishes provide happiness and comfort. In many cultures, food is the heart of the celebration and creates a feeling of togetherness. Tasty dishes and baked goods highlight the season, and both children and adults alike get excited for holiday treats. Traditional holiday foods are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. These foods also tend to fall short of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which are good for our health. When preparing holiday meals and treats this year, why not offer your family and friends dishes that are not only tasty, but also healthy?

Increase Fruits and Veggies
With so many beautifully colored produce options in the fall and winter, consider featuring a seasonal fruit or vegetable at the table. Choose from butternut or acorn squash, pumpkin, kale, cranberries, spinach, pomegranate, pear, collards, carrots, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts….the list is endless! Fruits and vegetables are a heart healthy addition to any dinner table. There are countless ways to include them in your favorite recipes. Try these seasonal recipes that use acorn squash and hearty kale to liven up any holiday party!

Holiday Dish Makeover
Did you know you can use fruits or vegetables to replace some of the fat in baked goods? Try replacing butter with unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas in your favorite baked goods recipe. Want to cut back on sugar in side dishes? Add some sweetness to dishes like salads and sauces with dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds instead of using sugary dressing or condiments. Or try cutting the amount of sugar listed in recipes by one-third or one-half. Add flavor to dishes without relying on salt and sugar by exploring different spices, which can play up sweet or savory dishes. For example, use cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice for sweet dishes, and rosemary, sage, or basil in savory recipes.  Try this dessert recipe that pairs chocolate with oatmeal and sweet potatoes for a twist on the familiar chocolate chip cookie bar!

Healthy Appetizer Ideas
Healthy appetizers? Yes! They do exist! Appetizers can be high in calories, fat, and salt, and are often fried or served with rich dressings. For your next holiday party try bringing healthy crowd pleasing appetizers that are sure to be a hit! Try this Spinach Dilly Dip which you can serve with fresh veggies or this Mango Salsa recipe which is sure to wow party guests!

With so many easy, delicious, and healthy holiday recipe options, why not give the gift of good health this year to friends and family? Eating good food that you can feel good about is a great way to enjoy the holiday season. For more inspiration, check out the UMD EatSmart recipe bank.

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall