Preparing Healthy Holiday Meals

Preparing Healthy Holiday Meals


One of the highlights of the holidays is the food that is shared and eaten amongst family and friends. However, enjoying these great foods can have you feeling guilty and bloated. It takes a combination of resolve, common sense, and preparation to avoid this from happening. Here are some tips and ideas on preparing festive foods that won’t lead to post-holiday guilt tripping.


Don’t serve everyday “filler food” like chips, pretzels, and other items that have high calories and low nutritional value. If you like chips and dip, find a healthy, vegetable rich, fresh salsa. Or if you still want to keep chicken wings on the menu, try baking them instead of frying them – they’ll still be full of flavor, but much healthier.

Relish trays with celery, carrots, radishes, peppers and other fresh veggies can be served with low-fat dressings. Serve small cubes of richly flavored cheeses instead of larger slices of more common cheeses. Or use low-fat cheeses like Swiss or mozzarella.

Almonds and walnuts are a great source of protein, easy to prepare and often ready to serve.

Main Courses

The centerpiece of many holiday dinners, whether beef, pork, chicken, or turkey, can be cooked and served so that, with moderate portions, there’s little to worry about. But keep the gravy to a minimum, don’t use too much salt, and avoid the skin on the fowl. Avoid deep frying or rich sauces, and savor the flavor of delicious meat, simply prepared.

Side Dishes

At the holiday table, it’s the side dishes that make the main course dangerous if you’re trying to watch your weight. But there are ways to have delicious sides that won’t bust your belt. Replace the mound of mashed potatoes swimming in butter and deluged with gravy with mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries. The rich flavor of these healthy treats, especially with a bit of cinnamon, will more than replace the missing mashed potatoes.

Replace the bread in stuffing with wild rice. It has a hearty flavor, and blends well with nuts and veggies. And cook it separately in the oven, rather than in the turkey, so it doesn’t absorb fat from the bird. And, just like with the appetizers, make sure there are plenty of veggies, cooked and raw, on the table.


Make a crustless pie, or a single crust if you usually make a double crust. Instead of a whole egg, use two egg whites in baked recipes. Evaporated skim milk is a useful substitute for heavy cream in cream pies and cheesecake. Instead of fatty frostings, top cakes with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or fresh fruit or a fruit sauce.