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Lighten Up Your Holiday Recipes

Choose healthy fats and limit the amount of salt and sugar you use.

The holidays are often a time to gather and celebrate with family and friends. Food can be a big part of the holiday season, providing enjoyment, comfort and connection. Preparing, sharing, and savouring traditional dishes and meals supports our social, mental, and spiritual well-being.

The holidays can be an opportunity to build new food traditions. Modifying old recipes or adding new dishes to a traditional meal, helps make sure that everyone at the table has enjoyable options to choose from.

Here are some ideas for adding new healthful foods to your holiday table:

  • Serve a new vegetable or fruit side dish. Try:
    • Roasted vegetables like squash, beets and Brussels sprouts
    • Winter green salads using kale or collards
    • Stewed fruit or fruit compotes using dried, fresh or frozen fruit
  • Include dishes that feature plant proteins. Some ideas include:
    • Shepherd’s pie with lentils and mushrooms
    • White bean and walnut meatloaf
    • Peppered tofu steaks

For more ideas, check out these healthier holiday recipes from the Heart and Stroke. Also see recipes from Canada’s Food Guide.

If you’re interested in modifying your classic holiday recipes to make them healthier, here are some ideas to get started:

  • Use herbs and spices to add extra flavour instead of salt
  • Try no sodium or low sodium broth for gravies, sauces and soups
  • Rinse canned beans, chickpeas, lentils, and vegetables before using. Or use no sodium or lower sodium versions
  • Make baked goods such as cookies, cakes and quick breads using ½ of the sugar in the recipe
  • Consider using vegetable oil or non-hydrogenated margarine instead of butter or lard in your cooking and baking
  • Replace some of the white flour in a recipe with whole grain flour
  • Add some ground flaxseed, ground nuts or nut flour to your baked goods
  • Use milk, low-fat evaporated milk or low-fat plain yogurt in place of cream and sour cream

To learn more, visit Canada’s food guide Adjusting recipes to meet your needs.

No matter what’s on your holiday table or plate, take the time to practice mindful eating. Eat slowly, and savour the aromas, flavours and textures of your food.

For more information about holiday eating, visit Canada’s food guide Healthy eating for holidays and Cultures, food traditions and healthy eating.