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Tasty Tips for Healthy Holidays

Ideas for Nutritious Meals from Chef Mark Allison 

With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays just around the corner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of delicious food offered over the next few weeks. But traditional holiday foods can be full of unhealthy fats, salt and sugar and loaded with calories. Here are a few of my personal tips to get you through the Thanksgiving Feast or Holiday Dinner.  

The Main Dish: 

  1. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional turkey. Dark meat has more calories than white but it also has more vitamins and minerals, so enjoy a bit of both and remember to take off the skin as this will reduce calories and fat. Roast your turkey as opposed to deep frying, and aim for a portion about the size of your palm. 
  2. Do as the Italians do and try serving fish. Fish is a lean protein and fatty fish like salmon promotes brain health. 
  3. Go vegetarian! A Whole Roasted Cauliflower makes a lovely presentation for a vegetarian crowd.  
Side Dishes: 
  1. Steam or roast your vegetables. Green beans are nutrient-packed but in a casserole with cream you’re not doing your heart any favors. Roasted broccoli makes a healthy side, but don't ruin it by adding butter or mounds of cheese. Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamins K and C. Roasted with a little olive oil and herbs, they make a healthy side. 
  2. Make your own cranberry sauce. Fresh is always best as canned varieties are packed with sugars and additives. Homemade versions with fresh cranberries can be a healthy topping.  
  3. Instead of sugary sweet potato casserole, try Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Mushrooms
  4. Try Cauliflower Mash in place of creamy mashed potatoes. 
Desserts and Drinks: 
  1. Go with pumpkin pie—it’s lighter than most other traditional desserts and pumpkin in loaded with vitamin A. 
  2. Tea is very low in calories and has a nice natural flavor to it. You can add more flavor with lemon or lime juice -- not sugar -- for a burst of fresh citrus. 
  3. Best of all is water! Zero calories and you may even stave off hunger while you're sipping and waiting for the turkey to cook! Add a few fresh berries, cucumber, or slices of citrus for natural flavor. 
Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Serves 8 


  1. Put cranberries, pineapple juice, applesauce and water in a sauce medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  2. Allow the sauce to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  3. Remove from the heat; when the sauce has thickened, add the juice and zest of the orange along with the honey if using. 
  4. Allow to cool completely and store in fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight before serving.
Published November 1, 2016

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