Holiday Eating Guide

by Åsa House

While I know most of you don’t really worry about the holiday’s and feel confident you will be able to stick to your routine, it could still be an idea to come into the season with a plan. The more prepared you are the more likelihood you will succeed. I will share with you some simple tips that might come in handy when gathering for family meals and also ideas for those days in between when we enjoy some time off, possibly in a house filled with leftovers.

Get the Work Out in!

I am usually the one cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, which requires an early rise to get the turkey in the oven. I usually set my alarm even earlier so I can get a good workout in before cooking begins. Working out in the morning is a great way to boost up your energy and it could help keeping you motivated during the day to stick to your routine as much as you can. Plan also for a workout the day after Thanksgiving. It might be easier to keep yourself from overeating knowing you will be sweating in the morning.

If you are not a morning person, try to find time at some point during the day for some activity. Bring family members along before or after dinner for a brisk walk in your neighborhood. To get peace in my house while cooking, I usually send my husband with the kids to the neighborhood turkey bowl, a friendly game of flag football that can be enjoyed by anyone. Not a tradition in your surroundings? Why don’t you initiate it!



The best way to spoil your holiday eating is by not eating! If the idea is to fast all morning and day so eating more at dinner will be possible, make another plan! The hungrier you are coming into the holiday feast, the more likely you are to overeat. Foods that you usually would not be tempted by might suddenly find their way onto your plate and before you know it, you find yourself laying down on the sofa in agony from being too full.

To avoid overeating, eat a good and balanced breakfast and if time permits, even a smaller lunch or at least a snack before hitting the Thanksgiving dinner. If you are not starving by the time dinner comes around, you will have a greater chance making better selections and keeping the meal in moderation mode.



For the Cook

Are you cooking the dinner? If so, you are in a good position to make sure there are several good alternatives. These could involve what you prepare and also how you prepare them. Here are 10 quick tips for lightening up your dinner table:

  1. Make dips with greek yogurt instead of sourcream and mayo
  2. Use store bought chicken broth instead of turkey drippings to make gravy.
  3. Skip the “candied” on the yams and eat them roasted with olive oil and rosemary
  4. Eat your green beans roasted in garlic instead of baked in a casserole
  5. Make your own cranberry relish instead of using cranberry sauce that is loaded with corn syrup.
  6. Swap potatoes, butter and cream and use mashed cauliflower flavored with broth, garlic, salt and pepper
  7. Use applesauce in place of ½ the fat called for in the recipe. Avocado can also be substituted for butter and will provide healthier fat but still be high in calories
  8. Cut sugar in your recipes in half, no one would ever know!
  9. Make several vegetable sides, both roasted and fresh, such as winter squash, brussel sprouts and a nice salad.
  10. Make bite size desserts, such as apple or pumpkin pie bites using small muffin tins. This doesn’t mean you can eat 5 of them. Stick to a couple.

For the Guest

If you are not cooking, you will have less control of how things are prepared and you have to be more savvy with your selections.

Here are 5 tips for avoiding some common  pitfalls:

  1. Filling up on the hors d’oeuvres. If there is a fresh vegetable tray, stick to it and go with no more than a tsp of dressing.
  2. Drinking your calories! This could involve anything from alcohol and eggnog to soda and fruit juice. Water is always the best option but for a more festive drink, try sparkling water with lime and fresh berries. If drinking alcohol, try to stick to one drink. Adding club soda to your wine could cut your caloric intake in half when compared to sangria.
  3. Going back for seconds. Now you are risking falling into the “overfull” state and you will regret it once you hit it. Fill your plate once!  Savor every bite. If you want more of something, there might be a possibility to bring home some leftovers.
  4. Getting stuffed on stuffing. Now, this is all depending on how it’s made but generally, stuffing is a caloric disaster. Go easy on breads overall, they add unnecessary calories. Save your calories for the good stuff – that is not stuffing.
  5. Bringing home all the leftovers! If there is something special you really like and you are offered to take some home, go for it but go small. If you are given containers to fill up and bring home, it might be the hostess’ polite but clever way of getting the food out of her house so she can stick to her diet.

Enjoy the holiday! Don’t make it all about food. Rather focus on family and giving thanks. One day of splurge will not push you over the edge as long as you pick up where you left off the next day. Find ways to incorporate leftovers into healthier dishes that could make up the upcoming week’s meal prepping.







Leftover Ideas


  • Lunch meat for sandwiches
  • Turkey noodle soup with leftover veggies
  • Turkey salad made with half greek yogurt, half mayo
  • Turkey in a green salad with cranberries and feta


Mashed potatoes:

  • Potato Soup
  • Mix with egg-whites and parmesan and bake in oven until golden
  • Make frittata mixing potatoes with green beans and a few eggs. Put in a muffin pan and bake until solid
  • Mix with stuffing and bake in muffin tins for a bite size portion


Sweet potatoes:

  • Steam with kale and chickpeas for a hearty salad
  • Make a sweet potato breakfast hash with onion and sunny egg on top



  • Top off a yogurt parfait
  • Use as topping for pancakes or waffles



Healthier sides

Roasted brussel sprouts:

  • 1-1/2 pound Brussels Sprouts, Trimmed And Halved
  • 1 whole Small Butternut Squash, Peeled And Cubed
  • 1 whole Large Red Onions, Peeled And Cut Into Wedges
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/3 cup Pomegranate Sauce/pomegranate Molasses
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the vegetables on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chill powder and toss them together. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until slightly browned. Remove the veggies from the oven and arrange them onto a serving platter.
  3. Drizzle on the pomegranate sauce, then sprinkle on pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.


Cauliflower dip:

    • 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), florets and stem cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled
    • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
    • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • Coarsely chopped parsley (for serving)
    • Baby romaine hearts and endive leaves (for serving)
      1. Pour water into a medium saucepan to a depth of 1/4″; add cauliflower and garlic. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until florets are very easily pierced with a paring knife, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
      2. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion, cumin, and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
      3. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes more.
      4. Transfer onion mixture to a blender. Add yogurt, lemon zest and juice, reserved cauliflower, and remaining 1 tsp. salt and purée until smooth.
      5. With the motor running, add 2 Tbsp. oil in a steady stream until well combined. If dip is too thick, blend in 1 Tbsp. water at a time to reach desired consistency. Let cool to room temperature.


Chocolate Nice cream:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
    1. Slice bananas and place flat into a Ziploc bag. Freeze until solid, 2 hours or overnight.
    2. In a food processor, add frozen banana slices, cocoa powder, maple syrup, water, and salt. Puree until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add chocolate chips and pulse until just incorporated.
    3. Transfer mixture to a loaf pan. Freeze until firm, another hour.


Åsa House has worked as a registered dietitian in our community for the past 12 years. Her focus is on individual education that leads to life long change in eating habits. She believes that weight loss should not be the end goal, it should be the pleasant side effect of a healthy lifestyle. Whether your initial goal is weight loss, improving chronic conditions, getting better results in the gym or simply a desire to eat better and live healthier for both you and your family, she can help you find your own personal way to reach your goals. Contact Åsa at