10 Superfoods to Add to Your Holiday Dinner Table

Article posted in: Nutrition

Canned vegetables. Butter galore. Sugar, sugar everywhere. The holidays can be TOUGH when you’re on a diet. But if you’re open to adapting recipes, trying new dishes and putting your health—instead of tradition—first, you’ll be just fine. In fact, you’ll feel better than you ever have when the meal is over. So how do you give grandma’s recipes a healthy makeover? Incorporate some of the healthy holiday foods we’ve listed below. Who knows: You just might make that age-old recipe taste even better.

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Check out our top 10 healthy holiday foods to add to your menu:

1. Berries


To kick off our list of healthy holiday foods is a sweet addition to any meal or snack. High in fiber and loaded with antioxidants and disease-fighting nutrients, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries are easy salad add-ins (think spinach with strawberries and goat cheese or butternut squash with pecans and cranberries). You can also make berry-infused water or iced tea or serve fresh berries for dessert with or without a little whipped cream. Cranberry sauce, of course, is a holiday staple. But make your own recipe; the canned varieties are loaded with sugar. For a delicious berry-filled recipe, click here >

2. Fish


Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, help control lupus, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions, reports Harvard Health. Fish—especially salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, anchovies and sardines—are terrific sources of omega-3s as well as lean protein. Remember: Don’t skip breakfast to save calories for the holiday feast. Why not start the day with whole wheat bagels and lox? Or, how about serving tuna-salad cucumber bites as holiday-meal appetizers? If your family is supportive of your weight loss journey, swap the holiday ham for a lemon trout or pomegranate salmon. For a delicious salmon recipe, click here >

3. Leafy Greens

leafy greens

Kale. Spinach. Arugula. Bok choy. Collards. The darker the color, the healthier the green. From fiber and vitamins A and C to disease-fighting phytochemicals, leafy greens are non-starchy vegetables that get our wholehearted approval. A salad is a terrific make-and-take dish if you’re not hosting the holiday meal, and it’s one way to ensure you’ll have an approved food on the table. If you’re hosting, you’re welcome to make a salad or you might try a veggie soup with wilted greens. Don’t forget about spinach and artichoke dip before the meal. For a delicious, spinach-filled dip recipe, click here >

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4. Nuts


Again with the omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein. You need these nutrients and nuts have them as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and a plethora of other vitamins and minerals. Virtually every side dish on your holiday table could be enhanced with nuts—green beans and hazelnuts, sweet potatoes and walnuts, Brussels sprouts and pecans. How about pistachio pudding for dessert? Crust-free peanut butter pie? Don’t forget that nuts make a terrific crust for desserts when bound with a bit of butter. How about a pumpkin pie with a crushed pecan crust? For a top-pick, hearty nut recipe, click here >

5. Whole Grains

whole grains

Turkey and…stuffing. Or dressing. Whatever you call it or however you prepare it, the two are meant to go together, and we’re not going to break up that match made in heaven. Just one requirement: Use whole grain bread. There are terrific variations out there incorporating pecans, apples and nutmeg if you really want to change things up. Or, just opt for a classic recipe with onions, celery and sage. Whole grain dinner rolls and pie crusts are also South-Beach-approved. Why whole grains? Fiber: Both insoluble and soluble. Plus, whole grains are rich in several B vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. For a delicious, whole grain side dish, click here >

6. Yogurt


Calcium, protein and probiotics equal strong bones, strong muscles and a strong, healthy gut. Yogurt is absolutely a superfood, and it’s more than a smoothie add-in or breakfast go-to. This holiday, try a cream-based sauce made from yogurt and spices for your roast beast. You can also use yogurt in salad dressings or make yogurt-based puddings for dessert. Seek out plain yogurt at the supermarket. Vanilla and fruit flavorings usually go hand-in-hand with lots of added sugar. Also look for “live active cultures” such as Lactobacillus, L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus on the label. For a delicious, yogurt-filled recipe, click here >

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7. Legumes


Another one of our top-picks for healthy holiday foods is a versatile powerhouse. From beans and hummus to edamame and lentils, the legume family is vast, delicious and loaded with fiber, folate and plant-based protein. Studies show legumes also play a role in heart-disease prevention. Legume-friendly side dishes, soups and salads are perfect for every table—and will be appreciated by vegan or vegetarian guests. Try our Chickpea Basil Sauté followed by our Easy Flourless Black Bean Brownies for dessert. If you purchase canned beans or peas, always rinse before using to remove excess salt. Watch the sodium content in prepared hummus. Check out another one of our favorite legume-based recipes here >

8. Olive Oil

Olive oil

This is an easy one! Encourage browning and add flavor to your roast beast by drizzling olive oil over top. Coating asparagus spears or fresh green beans in olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting prevents sticking and enhances flavor. High in vitamin E, polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids—all of which help reduce the risk of heart disease—olive oil adds nutrition behind the scenes and can be used in place of butter in many recipes. For a delicious dinner recipe that’s drizzled with olive oil, click here >

9. Eggs


Whole articles have been written on the health benefits of eggs. So you must incorporate them into you list of healthy holiday foods. But it’s hard to imagine eggs outside a scrambled or over-easy package, isn’t it? Not if you take the olive oil approach and think about the kinds of recipes that include eggs like cranberry meatballs or Mini Cocoa Swirl Cheesecakes. Don’t forget hard-boiled eggs for the relish tray. (Use olive-oil-based mayo.) For another creative take on this classic superfood, click here >

10. Pumpkin

healthy holiday foods

This superfood is a classic choice for healthy holiday foods. When you open can of pumpkin puree (which, by the way, is loaded with fiber, potassium and Vitamin A), it’s like you’re taking the lid off the holidays. So don’t feel guilty about cooking with this vegetable as long as you watch the additives. A pumpkin-apple soup would make a delicious appetizer. How about pumpkin risotto (using brown rice) with fresh sage as a side? The sky is the limit when it comes to pumpkin desserts (use liquid stevia). Our favorite sweet is pumpkin pie (with all those incredible eggs). Use a crushed-nut or whole-grain flour crust. You could even make crustless pies! For another way to enjoy this seasonal superfood, click here >