Serving Healthy Holiday Options

The holiday season is a popular time for celebrations, which are traditionally centered around food. Holiday menus usually contain indulgent foods that, when eaten in excess, can add inches to your waistline. You may be planning a holiday gathering and while it is always nice to have your favorite treats, it is a good idea to include healthy and guilt-free options for your health-conscious guests. Start with the basics by making sure to include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

  • It’s expected to have sweet treats, such as cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. These are simple carbohydrates and are the main culprit that leads to holiday weight gain. Serve them in smaller portion sizes and don’t make this the focus of your menu.
  • Cut calories by skipping the breaded or fried chicken; instead, chop chicken breast into cube sized pieces and bake, broil, or grill with your favorite herb seasoning.
  • Cocktail shrimp and meatballs made from ground turkey are lean options and make great finger foods. Nuts and bean dip make for great meatless options.
  • Assemble charcuterie cups and set them out for guests to grab; the cups will have pre-portioned servings of different food items. Be sure to create a vegetarian friendly option.
  • Provide fresh fruit and vegetables for your health-conscious guests. Vegetables, which provide essential nutrients, can be paired with dips instead of crackers. Forgo the mayo and cream-based dips and make your own using Greek yogurt or hummus as the base.
  • Avoid or limit certain beverages that add additional empty calories. Promote continued hydration by serving water and unsweetened tea, or sparkling water. You can add flavor by serving fruit infused water or try sweetening with artificial sweeteners.

It’s possible to enjoy your festivities while also being mindful and considerate of you and your guest’s health and dietary preferences. The key to enjoying the season without unnecessary stress is to allow yourself the freedom to enjoy your holidays and party without overdoing it.



Shari Bresin, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Pasco County Extension
Posted: December 4, 2023

Category: Health & Nutrition, Work & Life
Tags: Calories, Eating, Holidays

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