A Healthier Holiday Meal

A healthier take on the traditionally heavy holiday feast

Healthy Eating

Sonia Chartier

28 November 2018

Daring drinks

This holiday season, try offering some irresistible non-alcoholic drinks. Dinner hosts often tend to serve either water or overly sugary soft drinks as non-alcoholic refreshments. Be daring. Wow your guests from the outset with beautiful drinks such as Pomegranate Perfection, an easy-to-digest red and green delight, or the intriguing Blue Mojito Mocktail, a mix of bilberry juice, blueberry, lime and mint.

Starters with style

Start your meal off with a nutrient-packed starter that’s still in keeping with tradition. Try a seafood salad starter—oily fish is rich in omega-3 and protein—and toss up a salad that includes leaves such as spinach, which is rich in vitamins A, C, K and folate. Dark green baby spinach leaves make for a beautiful backdrop for your seafood.

If fish isn’t your thing, how about a big pot of veggie-packed soup instead? Use fresh, colourful vegetables to get a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but be sure to watch out for the salt content if using store-bought broth. I always opt for the unsalted version and add Herbamare instead. For a festive presentation, garnish your soup with a swirl of soy cream and fresh sprouts.

Tasty turkey

White meat such as turkey is an excellent source of protein, and turkey in particular is very lean and especially low in saturated fat. This typical holiday bird is rich in essential amino acids such as tryptophan, which is important for supporting mood and sleep. Turkey is also rich in iron and B vitamins, which are both important for energy production.

Why not go for a healthier cooking method and poach your turkey meat instead of roasting it? Poaching it in a broth with herbs, spices and vegetables will yield tender and delicious meat.

Passionate about potatoes

Every roast dinner needs potatoes, and while they may not count toward one of your daily veggie portions, they contain good amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fibre. My advice is to consider how you’re going to cook them and watch how much or what type of fat you need to use:

  • Bake ‘em! By keeping the skins on, you can benefit from some extra fibre, and you won’t need any fat to cook them: just prick them all over with a fork and pop them in the oven for an hour on low heat. They’ll come out nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
  • Roast them in coconut oil. If you can’t do without some roast potatoes, try swapping regular oil for coconut oil instead. It contains medium-chain triglycerides, which have been shown to support energy expenditure and heart health. You don’t need much oil at all: one tablespoon is plenty for four portions. Add some rosemary, which helps to support your circulation; it’s a nice addition to a meal with a moderate fat content.
  • Add in some beets. Ever thought of roasting some earthy beets alongside your potatoes? Beets are a fantastic addition to your roasting tray as they’re rich in iron and phytonutrients. They’ll also add a colourful splash to your plate, and they’re delicious too!
  • Prefer your potatoes mashed? Use broth instead of cream and butter to fluff them up. If you have homemade broth made with chicken bones, it’s even better since it’s known to protect your joints (and it’s much tastier than the bright yellow store-bought powdered broths).

Sensational Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are so underrated; they really are little nutrient powerhouses! They’re loaded with important vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and magnesium.

Try roasting them alongside some traditional chestnuts for added sweetness—they’re another surprising source of vitamin C. If you really can’t stand Brussels sprouts, try a different type of green instead. Try fava beans or kale, both of which can be boiled or steamed.

Colourful cranberries

Cranberry sauce is a traditional accompaniment and a good one at that! Berries in general are packed with nutrients—brightly coloured foods are often super rich in antioxidants—and cranberries in particular boast an impressive array of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, which is good for skin health, and iodine, which helps support your metabolism.

Cranberries are also well known for promoting urinary tract health. Make your own cranberry sauce to avoid the canned stuff, which is high in added sugar; you can add a splash of orange juice for an extra charge of sweetness and vitamin C.

Invaluable vegetables

Add colour to your plate with lots of vegetables. They’re low in fat and high in dietary fibre and nutrients. As usual, aim to include all the colours of the rainbow in order to benefit from as wide a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as possible!

Fancy fruit salad

Whip up a salad made with refreshing vitamin-C-rich oranges, sprinkled with cinnamon-infused honey. Cinnamon is not only loaded with antioxidants, but it also happens to be a natural digestive aid. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh mint. Can you imagine a more beautiful way to finish a holiday meal?


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