Heaping helpings of mashed potatoes and turkey stuffing and slabs of holiday pies make the holiday season seem a never ending diet disaster. However, those Thanksgiving and Christmas spreads are actually teeming with healthy holiday foods that offer a tasty bevy of vitamins, minerals, and other super food nutrients. When you belly up to the holiday table, be sure to (modestly) fill your plate with the following 10 healthy holiday foods.
A quality source of lean protein, turkey offers a delicious dose of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. Turkey meat is naturally low in fat—just be sure to peel off the skin. If another type of meat is on your holiday menu, opt for the leaner cuts.
For some families, nixing the bird for fish is a holiday tradition. Salmon is a popular choice and is swimming with healthy omega-3 fats while being another quality source of protein. Salmon’s natural fatty richness lends itself to simple roasting or baking without much prep or need for other ingredients.
Pumpkin, along with other winter squash, is a holiday super food packed with antioxidants and fiber while being naturally low in calories. As a bonus, pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fats. To reap the best benefits from this healthy holiday food, brush slices of pumpkin with olive oil and roast until tender, or make a low fat, low sugar pumpkin pie.
Sweet potato casseroles covered in brown sugar toppings certainly don’t rank high on the holiday health food list, but sweet potatoes are inherently a healthful holiday food choice. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber these root veggies are at their healthiest when cut into wedges and roasted or mashed with buttermilk and fresh herbs.
Best known for their role in high sugar, high calorie cranberry sauce, this red hued berry is a tasty source of antioxidants and naturally low in calories. As an alternative to cranberry sauce in a can, simmer fresh cranberries with a little orange juice and zest, sweetening to taste with honey or agave.
Gorgeous, red orbs bursting with juicy sweet-tart seeds, pomegranates are one of the richest sources of antioxidants. Crack one open and sprinkle the seeds over salads or desserts, stir into stuffings, or use the juice for dressings and cocktails.
Instead of coating your green beans with butter and crunchy fried noodles, try green beans steamed and sautéed in olive oil, a bit of garlic, and sliced almonds as a healthy holiday side. Green beans are high in fiber and deliciously low in calories, making them the go-to food to fill up on at the holiday table.
While white bread or corn bread stuffing is a popular partner for the holiday turkey, a wild rice stuffing chockfull of chopped celery, dried cherries, toasted nuts, and herbs offers substantial health benefits. Compared to breads (and other types of rice) wild rice is higher in protein and lower in fat and calories, as well as a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Not a health star while packed into a butter- and sugar-dense pecan pie, pecans are a nutritional powerhouse when eaten raw or lightly toasted. Loaded with healthy fats and vitamin E, pecans are best nibbled on as an appetizer or snack, chopped into salads and stuffings, or crushed and sprinkled over vegetables or seafood.
Compared to sugary dessert cocktails or mindless bottles of brew, red wine is a healthier holiday sip. A potent source of resveratrol and other antioxidants, a glass of red wine with the holiday meal not only makes it an even more palate-pleasing experience, it can also boost your heart health.
More healthy holiday foods
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