Healthful Holiday Meals


We often associate Thanksgiving and the December holidays with weight gain and overindulgence, but there are ways to ensure your jeans still fit after a few stints at the dinner table.


“Focus on healthful, seasonal offerings,” says registered dietitian Laura Pensiero (right), author of The Strang Cancer Prevention Center Cookbook. “Foods like pumpkin, cranberries, whole-grain rice, dates, pomegranates, root vegetables, braising greens and peanuts help make the season colorful and nutritious.”

Pensiero is especially fond of adding peanuts to entrees and side dishes.

They’re “a familiar ingredient that make a dish seem exotic, providing a delightful array of texture and flavor possibilities,” she says.

Peanuts complement virtually any cuisine—from Latin to Asian to New American. They also satisfy nutritionists, as they’re high in fiber, have no cholesterol and contain more than 30 essential nutrients.

Here are some of Pensiero’s healthful holiday habits.

  • Enjoy a large glass of water before tackling the bar or buffet. 
  • Monitor holiday drinking, which sparks appetite and lowers resistance. 
  • Scan buffet offerings and create a quick plan for a healthful plate. Whenever possible, serve yourself so you control what and how much you’ll eat. 
  • Look for lively conversation. Connect with interesting people to distract from mindless eating and drinking. 
  • Sure, we bond over food—but also on a walk. Suggest an after-meal walk to enjoy fresh air and a chance to visit.

Tune in tomorrow for Pensiero’s recipe for Garlicky Spinach With Raisins and Peanuts. All of the featured ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.

Photo courtesy of the National Peanut Board

Related Stories