How to plan a healthy – and delicious – holiday menu!

By Sue Mah, Registered Dietitian

As a dietitian and chef’s daughter, I know that food can be both nutritious and delicious! As the holiday season approaches, here are my tips to help you strike the balance between nutrition and taste when planning your special holiday menu.

Give your favourite dish a makeover. Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes? To healthy it up, try using half white potatoes and half sweet potatoes for extra fibre and beta-carotene. For a fancy presentation, first mash the different potatoes separately, and then fold the sweet potatoes into the white potatoes to give it a swirled, marble effect.

Prepare colourful, bite-sized appetizers. Look for appetizer recipes that use festive coloured fruit. Serve them as finger foods to keep portions under control. Try these PB and Roasted Strawberry Canapés and Seared Shrimp Tortilla Bites made with peanut butter and mango. Your guests will love them, and bonus – you can do most of the prep in advance and simply assemble the appetizers in no time!

PB and Roasted Strawberry Canapes Seared Shrimp Tortilla Bites

Wow your guests with all-star veggie side dishes. Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness. Roasted beets are brilliant and delicious over a bed of arugula, topped with crumbled goat cheese and a splash of pomegranate seeds. Even your most picky eaters may try roasted Brussels sprouts or roasted butternut squash tossed in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt.

Offer a range of drinks. Calories from alcohol and sweetened drinks can add up quickly. Offer lower calorie options such as sparkling water with lemon or lime, cranberry juice with club soda, or lower sodium vegetable juice. Keep these readily available so that your guests can easily alternate between alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks.

Make a decadent dessert. Yes, that’s right – decadent! It’s the holidays and what better time for celebrating with friends and family. Again, do your best to keep the portions small. If you’re a peanut butter and chocolate fan, these Peanut Butter Truffles are a must! Creamy, delicious and decadent! And they make a beautiful hostess gift too.

Peanut Butter Truffles

Use smaller plates and glassware. The bigger the plate, the more food we’ll pile on it. Use lunch-sized plates for your meal instead of large dinner plates. Research also shows that we tend to drink more from short, wide glasses rather than tall glasses. Put out the tall glasses for alcoholic and sweetened beverages, and save the short glasses for water!

Happy holidays!


Sue Mah is a Registered Dietitian and President of Nutrition Solutions Inc. With a passion for wholesome and delicious food, Sue serves up sensible nutrition advice. She is a speaker, writer and recognized nutrition expert in the media.