SOMEBODY in your family or circle of friends has to make the first attempt at making healthier holiday meals happen, right? As Nike says, if you “Just Do It” and don’t announce it, no one will be the wiser and everyone will be happier because they will feel better after eating. On the plus side, with January just around the corner, you’ll be giving yourself and those you care about the gift of having a head start on their health goals for the upcoming year.
So here are my Top 10 Tips for making a healthier holiday happen for your family and friends.
1. Plan ahead
Plan your menus now for the next few weeks. This is my personal ‘peace of mind’ priceless gift to myself…just knowing ahead of time what I will be doing; buying, preparing and cooking, takes so much stress out of my life at this busy time of the year.
2. Make it pretty
One of my best tricks is to embellish, enhance or upgrade simple, healthy foods by serving them in lovely dishes. With all the sales and outlets we have now for reasonable tableware, this is easy to accomplish…and so much fun! This pretty picture is from Food and Wine Magazine, the recipe for this healthy green bean and blood orange Christmas side dish is here.
3. Make it taste good
Sounds obvious, but nothing is gained with a healthy dish that no one likes or will will eat. Add special herbs and spices available at gourmet markets (a tiny splurge!) to make even the simplest of foods taste absolutely delicious.
4. Do not call it healthy!
Enough said 🙂 See #1.
5. Set a beautiful table
Setting a beautiful table with care and attention is so important and is always noticed and appreciated. It makes any food eaten at your holiday table a special experience for your family and guests. Use candles (but be aware of guests who might be allergic to certain scents), tablecloths, flowers – whatever – but plan it carefully ahead of time. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness while they enjoy a light, delicious and healthy meal versus being stuffed to the gills with unhealthy food.
What most people are really hungry for isn’t your food, but to be made to feel special, appreciated and part of a community.
6. Use the freshest ingredients possible
Like fresh parsley. The difference is not only in the taste but in the color – and what a pretty garnish, too! The freshest ingredients you can buy or pick from your local organic garden will make all the taste difference for you and your guests.
The recipe for this pretty Christmas salad using fresh parsley as a garnish, can be found here.
7. Try some new ideas and share what they will be ahead of time with your guests
Trying new ideas like this Cauliflower side dish with a roasted tomato garnish and sharing how excited you are about trying them with your family and friends will help them look forward to tasting your latest creations!
The recipe for this pretty, healthy, holiday dish can be found, here.
8. Keep some of your “sacred traditions”
Every family needs to know that there are sacred traditions that won’t be changed. Always have something on your holiday table that is just like Grandma made, even if you tweak it just slightly. Many ingredients that don’t change the taste, but are healthier for your family, were not available in Grandma’s time: a good example being milk.
You can use regular milk now in any recipe calling for evaporated milk. Evaporated milk was developed for wartime usage, when fresh milk was not readily available to our Mothers, but now that it is once again available, use fresh, organic milk. No one will know the difference.
9. Don’t make a big deal out of changing anything.
See #1 and #4.
10. Give recipe suggestions to guests who are bringing a dish
Plan a shared meal experience at your home to reduce stress and tactfully give healthy, tasty recipe suggestions to your guests bringing a dish. I have done this for years and most often, it is met with a sigh of relief of not having to come up with something out of the blue. Most people like suggestions. Of course, there are always going to be those that just have to have their thing and so be it!
So there you have it….my Top 10 Tips on happier, healthier holiday meals. What a true gift you will be giving those you love. You will be giving the gift of health and the gift of appreciating the beautiful experience in sharing an intentionally “designed” holiday celebration meal. This is truly a priceless gift.
Let me know what you think if you make any of them for your own families and guests this season over on Twitter at @Mitzi_Beach.And now, I invite you to go to the homepage on my site at
and enter your email to receive my FREE download link to the e-cookbook I wrote , containing all of my favorite delicious, healthy holiday meals for you and your families, all of which I’ve tested in my own kitchen that you see me in below.