Healthy Holiday Sides

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Sitting around the holiday table with loved ones and celebrating the holidays – nothing can be better! However, it is very easy to overdo the calories during the holidays. The average American eats around 4,500 calories during a holiday meal (WebMD article by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD). If you are looking for ways to decrease your calories, think healthy holiday side dishes.

Read below for some tips on how to make your holiday side dishes healthy. Also read on for two delicious recipes – Brown Butter and Dill Brussels Sprouts and Mixed Greens and Pear Salad.

Include fruits and vegetables.

Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are packed full of good nutrition, are low in calories and are delicious! When deciding which dishes to serve, try to think of which dishes could include a fruit or vegetable. Fresh, cut vegetables are a perfect appetizer; try serving fresh fruit with your traditional dessert and consider the two recipes below.

Trade up your ingredients using NuVal.

When deciding which items to buy for your holiday feast, the NuVal nutritional scoring system can be your best friend. NuVal scores foods from 1 to 100; the higher the score, the higher the nutritional value of the food. For example, canned Hy-Vee green beans have a NuVal score of 55 but the canned no-salt-added Hy-Vee green beans have a NuVal score of 100.

Serve a mix of old favorites and new dishes.

When planning your holiday menu, be sure to keep a few of the old favorites on the table while introducing new, healthy dishes. The two recipes below are perfect examples of new, healthy recipes. Who knows? Maybe these will become the old favorites!


Brown Butter and Dill Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4 (3/4 cup each)
Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

All you need:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 tbsp Hy-Vee unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp Grand Selections extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Hy-Vee slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp Grand Selections white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp Hy-Vee freshly ground pepper

All you do:

  1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket (or see Microwave Variation). Add Brussels sprouts; cover and steam until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling often, until the butter turns a nutty brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in oil and scrape into a large bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the Brussels sprouts, almonds, vinegar, dill, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Microwave Variation: Place Brussels sprouts in a glass baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water, cover tightly and microwave on HIGH until tender, about 6 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving: 131 calories; 10g fat (3g sat, 5g mono); 8mg cholesterol; 10g carbohydrate; 0g added sugars; 4g protein; 4g fiber; 172mg sodium; 431mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (128% daily value), Vitamin A (21% dv), Folate (19% dv).
Carbohydrate servings: 1/2
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 2 fat

Source: adapted from Eating Well, Inc.


Mixed Greens and Pear Salad
Serves: 8

All you need:

  • 1 (5 ounce) package torn mixed salad greens
  • 1 large pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 large apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese, shredded or chopped
  • 1/3 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/3 cup Kraft Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette

All you do:

  1. Combine all ingredients and toss together in a large bowl.

Source: Modified from www.kraftfoods.com

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 100, Carbohydrate: 10 g, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Fat: 6 g, Protein: 3 g, Sodium: 150 mg.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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