Saturday, December 15, 2012

Traditional Christmas Dishes Gone Healthy

One of the most difficult times of the year to keep eating healthy and making good choices is the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year. I attribute this in part to the fact that people have a very defined idea of what foods should be served as part of a "traditional meal".

I have set out to find dishes that are similar or the same, but made using better alternatives, less fat, fewer calories, or all of the above.


In my family, we have never had an emphasis on appetizers because we all show up about 15-30 minutes before the meal is supposed to be ready to eat. If you do have appetizers for your guests to munch on because there is a significant wait for the meal, try things like a vegetable tray, low-fat cheese cut into small slices rather than cubes that make it easy to overeat. For dips, try things made of low-fat yogurt or salsa instead of cream cheese or high fat dressing based dips.

Main Course

One tip from is to remember one serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. This will likely mean that the main meat dish served won't need any alterations in the recipe, but you will just need to pay attention to how much you are eating.

Side Dishes

Well, you made it through appetizers and the main course, but now it is time to add side dishes to your serving of the main course meat. Other than the obvious culprit of dessert, this is where your calories and fat can add up really quickly. Any dish featuring cheese, dairy, and a root vegetable can be a sure sign of a high calorie dish. These of course are my absolute favorite, so believe me-I know it is hard to avoid or limit!

I am much more likely to eat vegetables if they are cooked rather than raw, so one side dish could be a roasted vegetable mix coated with some olive oil and seasoning. This would be a great alternative to a sweet potato that is served with butter and sugar or a sweet potato casserole. This recipe looked delicious and simple from Chaos and the Kitchen's blog Roasted Root Vegetables.

A fabulous alternative to green bean casseroleAnother side dish that is common is the green bean casserole. Depending upon how you wish to justify this dish it isn't the worst thing you can eat, but there is a healthier alternative you could try from the examiner green bean alternative recipe . The worst of the recipe is that it uses two slices of bacon and one tablespoon of butter rather than cream of mushroom soup, milk, and crunchy onion pieces. That sounds like a much better health trade to me!

Side, Sliced Just RightMany people love potatoes with their holiday meal, me included. But one way to help people who overindulge (ME!!) is to create a potato dish that is already portioned rather than an open bowl of mashed potatoes.You could try doing baked potato halves or finding individual serving dishes to display the mashed potatoes in with a small pat of butter on the top and fresh cracked pepper. For me, the saving grace of trying to do potatoes healthier is merely portioning my sizes! If portioning mashed potatoes for a large group sounds like too much trouble, you could also try this accordioned red potato recipe from Good Housekeeping Accordion Red Potato Recipe

So far we are 'gluten-free' on all of our alternatives for the meal. This was not done purposely, and I know we have some bread and pasta lovers, so in being fair, I am going to find one or two items to add to your Christmas dinner that are gluten based!


Wine-Poached PearsThis fruit based dessert will be for adults only, but looks amazing in its presentation recipe can be found at Good Housewives magazine Wine Poached Pears

Chocolate Ginger Mousse

Another great dessert option is a Chocolate Ginger Mousse from

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