10 Diet-friendly Dishes and Desserts for a Healthier Holiday Season

Maintaining healthy eating habits is challenging year-round, especially during the holiday season when friends and family come together often—usually to eat. However, eating healthy around the holidays doesn’t mean you have to miss out on delicious seasonal flavors. With some creativity in the kitchen, you can enjoy decadent meals and desserts without sacrificing your diet. For this year’s celebrations, consider making one of these healthy but heavenly recipes: 

1. Southern Living’s Smoky Cedar-planked Salmon 

Salmon is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and B vitamins. It’s a superfood known to reduce the risk of heart disease. One way to “winterize” this tasty fish is by cooking this sweet and smoky cedar-planked salmon, which pairs well with steamed vegetables and mashed sweet or russet potatoes.  

2. A Butternut Squash Blossom

Rich in Vitamin A, butternut squash is abundant in the fall and winter and an excellent substitute for those who aren’t fans of potatoes or carrots. One health-conscious way to make butternut squash into a hearty appetizer is creating a skillet butternut squash blossom that doesn’t include the heavy cream usually associated with squash recipes. You can tweak this recipe by skipping the bacon and subbing the olive oil for a healthier option. 

3. Cranberry Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

For dessert, cranberry nut chocolate chip cookies make a hit after Christmas dinner or even as a snack at a New Year’s Eve celebration. For an extra boost, consider adding collagen proteins to the mix. This powdered supplement dissolves in liquid and doesn’t change the taste or consistency of your baked goods. Adding more collagen into your regular diet can improve your skin, bone, joint, heart, and gut health.

4. Apple Galette

This high-calcium apple galette is another treat to share with health-conscious guests. The best types of apples to use for this are Cortland, as the flesh never loses its color, or Fuji since it contains substantial amounts of Vitamin C, fiber, and flavonoids. For the drizzle, use Greek yogurt, a healthy alternative to full-fat yogurt, caramel, or chocolate. 

5. Winter Salads

When you think of salad, your mind may jump to recipes for warmers months topped with seasonal fruits. However, there are tasty ways to winterize salads. Consider serving parmesan brussels sprouts salad or ramen noodle salad without the sodium-laden flavoring. You could also try roasted goat cheese salad featuring the fiber and folate-rich beets or a classic Mediterranean grilled chicken salad. 

For a more festive choice, make a holiday apple salad with dried cranberries added to it for a sweeter taste. Another winter favorite is a quinoa salad made with squash, pecans, and dried cranberries. 

6. Paleo Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread cookies are a traditional holiday favorite of children and adults alike. Add a healthy twist to the beloved treat by making paleo gingerbread biscotti. These cookies are gluten-free to align with their paleo purpose, sweetened with maple syrup instead of maple sugar, and baked with coconut oil instead of butter. Even those who aren’t on the paleo diet will enjoy these treats. 

7. Winter Fruit Salad

An alternative to sweets and baked goods for dessert is a winter fruit salad containing pomegranate seeds, poppy seeds, apples, pears, clementines, bananas, kiwi, honey, lime juice, and mint. 

8. Oven-fried Latkes

Party guests celebrating Chanukah will love these oven-fried latkes. This dish uses egg whites instead of the whole egg and russet potatoes. These latkes also call for sugar-free applesauce and reduced-fat sour cream as their sides. 

9. Bean-and-Greens or Creamy Carrot and Lemongrass Soup

Soup is a traditional wintertime favorite. For hosts and guests who prefer soup over salad, beans-and-greens soup packs in calcium and potassium. Creamy carrot and lemongrass soup is also great, as lemongrass itself contains antioxidants. Just one serving of the soup makes up for 100 percent of your daily vitamin A needs.

10. Pork With Red-skinned Potatoes And Creamy Applesauce

Meat-lovers will enjoy the lean roasted pork tenderloin with potassium-and fiber-rich red-skinned potatoes. To maintain this meal’s health benefits, serve sugar-free applesauce as a side option.

Planning a Healthier Holiday Season

These are only a small handful of holiday dishes, sides, desserts, and snacks that will make your meals healthier this holiday season. Hosts can still get creative and conjure up recipes of their own with just the right healthy foods and ingredients. These recipes are a great starting point if you’re trying to plan more nutritious holiday meals or if you’re serving guests with special nutritional or dietary needs.