Eat healthy over the holidays without giving up taste

The holidays are about celebration, not deprivation. So there’s no reason to give up delicious eats. Traditional holiday tables might be filled with main dishes and sides brimming with fat, sugar and calories, but you don’t have to accept diet disasters. With a few simple switches, you’ll have all the taste you crave without the unhealthful additions. Here are a few dishes that take holiday dining from holiday humbug to delectably healthy:

Before Dinner

Humbug: Cheese ball with crackers
Cheer: Dried apricots topped with goat cheese, a drizzle of honey and chopped pistachios
Health: Instead of gobs of saturated fat from the cheese ball and refined grains in the crackers, you’ll get fiber, beta-carotene, blood-pressure-friendly potassium, eye-saving lutein and much less saturated fat.

Humbug: Cream of mushroom soup
Cheer: Vegan pumpkin-orange soup
Health: Skip the cream and sip this vitamin-packed pumpkin soup, spruced up and thinned with orange juice.


Humbug: Roasted whole turkey
Cheer: Skinless roasted turkey breast
Health: Skinless breast meat has less saturated fat and calories, making it a great alternative to traditional skin-on preparation.

Humbug: Green bean casserole
Cheer: Green beans with lemon and garlic
Health: Replace the familiar dish with this flavorful alternative, which has less saturated fat, more heart-healthy fats and added protein.

Humbug: Traditional bread and sausage stuffing
Cheer: Wild rice stuffing with dried fruit and walnuts
Health: Dine on whole grains, more fiber, fruit, some omega-3 fatty acids and a host of disease-fighting phytochemicals.

After Dinner

Humbug: Pecan pie
Cheer: Apple-cherry oat crisp
Health: You’ll gain whole grains and antioxidant-rich fruit, while saving calories.

Humbug: Whipped-cream-laden peppermint mocha
Cheer: Hot spiced apple cider
Health: This tasty drink has fewer calories, less sugar and no saturated fat.

Visit for healthy holiday recipes, including the holiday cheer dishes in this article.

Jill Weisenberger is a registered dietitian, a certified diabetes educator and the author of Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week.

Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic

Prep time: 10 minutes • Cook Time: 12 minutes • Servings: 6

This easy and healthy holiday side dish features crisp green beans, lemon, garlic and a touch of sweetness from maple syrup. Add some chopped pecans for crunch, and this dish will outshine the main course.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted


1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add green beans and cook until still crisp, about 10 minutes.

2. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and maple syrup. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

3. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with lemon zest and toasted pecans. Serve hot.

Go to for more great meal ideas.

Bree Hester won a Sams Club membership for participating in a cobbler competition and is now a contributor to Healthy Living Made Simple.