Healthy Holiday Food


‘Tis the season for festive food and drinks, right? The best part is you can add healthy, flavor-filled additions to your favorite holiday meals and libations – yet still enjoy indulgences along the way. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I recommend portion control and mindful eating around the holidays as the first line of defense for waistline watching and eating satisfaction. However, whether you are a party goer or thrower, you can jazz up any menu with some nourishing boosts by focusing on important nutrients.


Protein is packed with vital amino acids to keep you going by fueling your muscles as you go about your festivities. The holidays can get carbohydrate-heavy, so focusing on balancing your holiday menu with lean proteins is a good bet. Try some delicious protein-packed ideas in appetizers, main and side dishes like:

  • tomato, basil and mozzarella salad
  • asparagus wrapped in thinly sliced pork loin
  • mini peppers stuffed with ground lean beef and quinoa
  • soy protein with baked tofu and veggie skewers or tempeh (fermented soybeans) stuffed peppers
  • shrimp cocktail or tuna tartare


Fiber is filling as it’s the non-digestible part of plant foods. Fiber-filled foods, such as vegetables, fruit, beans, peas and lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can help keep your digestive system in good working order, your cholesterol in check, and even your waistline in a healthy range. Give your holidays a fiber boost with:

  • whole grain bread in stuffing
  • soybeans (or edamame) in mixed greens salad
  • white beans whipped into mashed potatoes
  • roasting cauliflower, broccoli and carrots as a side dish
  • slivered almonds into green bean casserole
  • pumpkin pie dusted with ground flax seed


Your body relies on healthy, unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish, and avocado. Fat is not only satisfying for your appetite, but it’s been shown to be anti-inflammatory, which can fend off diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and cognitive decline.Get creative with fat:

  • sprinkle chia seeds over baked yams,
  • slice avocado over toast points for a tasty appetizer
  • add flaked smoked salmon to salads
  • drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over roasted potatoes
  • whip up plain yogurt into a tangy tzatziki dressing and serve with vegetable chips


Tiny (micro)nutrients (a.k.a. vitamin and minerals) that your body relies on to sustain your health and happiness are found in most foods.Vitamins can be water-soluble and easily pass through your system, such as vitamin C and the B-vitamins, or they can be fat-soluble and stay in your body longer like vitamins A, D, E, and K.Minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium do a lot of beneficial things in the body, such as keep your bones healthy, heart beating, muscles contracting and kidneys working to balance fluids in and out of your body. Iron is another important mineral for your blood and energy levels.

Since not all foods have the same vitamin and mineral profiles, it helps to get a combination of whole foods. Around the holidays, get important micronutrients like iron by:

  • dicing roasted pork loin into roasted Brussels sprouts
  • adding potassium from vegetables and fruits
  • increasing calcium and vitamin D intake by adding milk and/or yogurt to mashed potatoes
  • sprinkling toasted almonds over baked green beans or into homemade cranberry sauce for a boost of vitamin E

Enjoy a healthy holiday season!

Vicki Shanta Retelny RDN LDN

Vicki Retelny, RDN, LDN

About Victoria

Vicki Shanta Retelny is a lifestyle nutrition expert, author of Total Body Diet for Dummies and culinary consultant who lives in Chicago with her husband, two children and a pet pug. She blogs at

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