Tips for Healthy Holiday Meals!

Holiday season is here! And most likely the first thing that come to everyone’s minds is family gatherings and food. Truth is that the holiday season is a nice opportunity to get together and be thankful for all important things in life. However, for many people, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, are also stressors that could potentially sabotage your weight and health goals.

And it is not only the fact of not knowing what to cook but how much to eat. We all need to be mindful about our food choices throughout the year, and although most people tend to think that holidays and healthy eating do not belong in the same sentence, it is still possible. Although weight loss may not be realistic during the holidays, people can still aim at not gaining extra weight.

Pay attention to the cooking methods and ingredients you use in the preparation of your holiday meals. Roasted meats are usually the entrée choice for holiday celebrations. Regardless of the choice, it is most important to have a ‘juicy’ meat that doesn’t require so much gravy; remember, gravy tends to be high in calories and fat.

Cook your meat at about 375F for as many hours as needed and baste the meat with its own drippings. Avoid using extra butter. Always let the meat rest for about 15-20 minutes before carving it, so all the juices are retained in the meat and don’t end up on the serving platter.

For flavorful, low-calories sides, choose at least two non-starchy options. Some examples include roasted carrots, Brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower steaks and garlicky broccoli. Of course, choose one starchy side, like stuffed sweet potatoes, celery root mash or yellow rice.

Rethink your classic recipes for a waist-friendly version. For instance, instead of topping your classic sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, add toasted pecans and raisings. Another example is to use whole milk instead of heavy cream for traditional mash dishes or green bean casseroles.

Don’t drink your calories! Prepare a holidays fruit cocktail with seltzer water or calorie-free ginger ale.

All in all, the most important aspect of the holidays, is to connect, value and appreciate what we have. A nice meal is always a great complement to the experience.

A great recipe to keep in mind this Holiday season

Beef Salpicón is a traditional Honduran dish that is both delicious and very easy to make. Given that the recipe doesn’t require any additional fats or oils, the dish is low in fat—although not necessarily low in calories— compared to similar dishes containing meat.

You can serve salpicón at room temperature or chilled. Serve with some rice and a garden salad for a balanced meal.


1 ½ lb. lean beef

2 red onions, 1 finely chopped and 1 roughly chopped

½ green bell pepper, finely diced

2 limes, juiced

1 Roma tomato, finely diced (optional)

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 celery sticks, chopped

2-3 culantro (recadito) leaves

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. dried oregano

4-6 cups beef OR vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste


Cut the meat in medium size chunks

In a medium size saucepot, place the meat and the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the finely chopped onion, tomato, bell pepper and lime juice.

When meat is tender, place it on a cutting board.  Let it cool down.  Reserve the cooking liquid.

In a food processor, process the meat by pulsing the processor in intervals and adding a little of the cooking liquid at a time.  The texture should be chunky not pasty. Mix the meat with the rest of the ingredients. Serve warm or chilled.


Suellen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in the Rochester, NY area.  Connect with her at or follow her on Instagram at @Suellen_Pineda

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