How to Put a Healthy Spin on Holiday Classics

How to Put a Healthy Spin on Holiday Classics

Nov 01, 2022Margaret Barrow

It is the most wonderful time of the year! That is right, it is the holiday season. Celebrating the holiday season does not mean you must abandon your health and wellness goals entirely. On the contrary, you can still enjoy the holiday favorites you only get to experience once a year (as you very well should). If you feel like getting creative, you can channel that into your culinary expertise and transform those traditional family classics into an elevated and more mindful holiday dish. Here are some super simple ways you can put a healthy spin on holiday classics.

Tip: Do you need some additional ideas on creating healthy holiday dishes? Check out these healthy holiday hors d’oeuvres. Photo credit: shironosov


#1 Choose Fresh Green Beans Instead of Green Bean Casserole

Instead of opting for traditional green bean casserole, which can be layered with cream, cheese, and other dairy products, which may disrupt your hormone health, keep it simple with fresh steamed green beans. For an added crunch of taste and texture, add a sprinkle of grain-free bread crumbs, crushed walnuts, or slivered almonds, which all add both taste and texture to this already mindful dish. Photo credit: bhofack2


#2 Ditch the Store-Bought Stuffing and Make Your Own

Nothing says the holidays like a heaping spoonful of stuffing, but instead of buying store-bought stuffing, which can be loaded with sodium and other questionable ingredients, make your own at home. 

Simply saute carrots, celery, onions, and any other cubed vegetables you enjoy in 1-2 tablespoons of avocado oil. Combine the vegetables with cubes of grain-free bread, vegetable broth, and your favorite holiday herbs and spices like black pepper, sage, and thyme then bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown in color. Photo credit: MSPhotographic

#3 Get Some Gravy

This holiday season, leave the jarred gravy on the grocery store shelves where it belongs and make your own instead. It is easy! Just follow these three simple steps.

  • In a large saucepan, combine one cup of broth (beef, chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth), seasonings (pepper, salt, and thyme or any of your other favorite flavors), and the drippings from your roasting pan assuming you are using it to roast a delicious holiday dinner. (This last part is optional, especially if you are Vegan or Vegetarian).
  • Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner and set the burner to medium-high heat.
  • Stir until gravy is brown in color then add 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, tapioca flour, or another natural thickener of your choice until the mixture is thoroughly combined. 

That is it! Add to a fancy or fun gravy boat and serve alongside your holiday feast. Umm, yeah, we are going to need seconds of that, please.

#4 Go Grain Free

It is incredibly easy to fill up on bread from the bread basket long before your favorite holiday dishes have made their way around the dinner table to you, so either skip the bread basket entirely or opt for grain-free options, which tend to be lighter and way less filling than traditional bread options.

Tip: If you are making your own homemade holiday bread from scratch, replace full-fat milk or whole milk with plain yogurt to keep the recipe light. If you are Vegan or Vegetarian, opt for plant-based milk made from nuts or seeds instead.

#5 Select a Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Although the canned-shaped cranberry sauce is a staple at the holiday dinner table, the can of cranberry sauce you open for the holidays is also laden with artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, preservatives, and refined sugar. (Yikes!) Cut out the processed sugars and make your own sugar-free cranberry sauce instead. Check out these simple recipes from Cookie + Kate or The Wellness Mama for some inspiration. Photo credit: Bruce Peter Morin

#6 Recreate Your Own Candied Yams

Instead of serving candied yams topped with fluffy white marshmallows, try serving another sweet side dish like oven-roasted acorn squash, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes. Simply dice and slice the desired amount of each vegetable you would like, then toss in avocado oil with a dash of pink Himalayan Salt.

Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20-40 minutes or until the vegetables are fully roasted and tender to the touch. Remember, the natural sugars in these veggies will cause them to easily burn if you cook them at too high of a temperature, so low and slow wins the holiday race! Photo credit: bhofack2

#7 Say So Long to Processed Sugar

One of the best parts about the holiday season is the array of Christmas cookies on display at every holiday party. This year, skip the Christmas cookies that are filled with artificial ingredients and processed sugars and enjoy some sweet treats that have been prepared with real, whole-food ingredients. You may even opt for a simple, yet delicious, holiday pie like pumpkin pie sweetened with a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup or a handful of granola bites perfect for an appetizer, snack, or sweet treat to serve after dinner.

The holidays are all about being merry and bright and if that means enjoying your favorite mug of eggnog or a slice of homemade pie, enjoy each and every bite, but if you find yourself being drawn to something new, explore it. Go ahead and swap that classic cup of eggnog for a warm mug of apple cider or make a brand new appetizer recipe with a more mindful spin. Photo credit: jenifoto

Whatever you do, do not skip the simple joys of your favorite classic dishes this holiday season. Instead, elevate them by being more mindful of how you prepare them so you and your holiday guests can feel and look their best from now until the New Year. Happy holidays everyone!

- Stay Healthy and Happy

Need some new recipe ideas to make this holiday season? Check out @mbveganvegetarianshare or join our CEO live @itsnolasnacks every other Sunday when she shares some delicious and nutritious vegan recipes. Do not worry, even if you are not vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.

Tag us @itsnolasnacks so we can see all of your favorite healthy holiday recipes.

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