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A Tasty Yet Healthy Holiday Dinner

When I first lost 15 kilos, I was terrified going to organised dinners where someone else was cooking. I am a people pleaser and feel awful to say no to a dish that was lovingly prepared by a family member or dear friend.

My wish is for all families who want to lead a healthier lifestyle is to make a holiday dinner that taste good AND is healthy, but not far off from the original traditional meal that we expect. And healthy meaning… feels good in the belly and doesn’t send an instant kilo to your rear-end.

What’s key for it to be healthy is:

1)    Make it with real whole food ingredients

2)    Keep the added sugar as low as possible

3)    Watch portions size… and really enjoy it!!!


It’s all good here! Here are my favorite “healthy holiday menus” and a couple of recipes to try.


Easy Healthy Starters and Appetizers


·         Smoked salmon slices with whole grain crackers

·         Vegetable slices served with a warm cream cheese and spinach dip

·         Fig slices smeared with goat cheese and honey

·         Nuts in their shells… people need to crack their own!



The Traditional Healthy Dinner Menu


·         Turkey… breast and the dark meat as well. (Portion is the size of your palm)

·         Mash Potatoes… (fist sized portion)

·         Roasted Vegetables: leafy green brussel sprouts and carrots are delicious with a maple syrup sauce… (fist sized portion)

·         Green salad with kale and roasted nuts mixed in (small bowl portion)






Remember portion sizes and making desserts with less sugar and less crust/breads. Use honey and maple syrup as your sweetener instead of sugars.

·         Fruit salad (fist size portion)

·         Roasted berries and cream (fist size portion)

·         Hard cheese & nuts (thumb size portion!!!) with rocket leaves


A Recipe to Get You Started

My favorite dish during the holidays is the stuffing. Magically butter flavored squishy bread flavored with sage. It’s not a flat belly food! But here is what is.

Herb Stuffed Butternut Squash


This squash is stuffed with similar ingredients to a typical stuffing, except the bread is subbed out for a healthy grain with the addition of eating the squash itself adding in vegetables for a boost of fiber.

By the way you can make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage. I’ve done it and it’s still amazing.




For 2 people as a main or 4 as a side dish

1 medium butternut squash

3 tablespoons butter

1 small red onion, diced

2/3 cup celery, chopped

salt & pepper to taste

2/3 cup Salciccia (Italian sausage)

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

3 sage leaves, torn

1 1/2 cups cooked grains
(millet, quinoa, or amaranth)

4 tablespoons soft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F / 205°C. 

  1. Prepare the squash

·         Cut it in half and take out the seeds and slimy bits

·         Put it face down into a baking dish with a bit of water around it.

·         Bake until cooked through… about 45 minutes.

·         Then let cool

  1. Get a frying pan and melt the butter along with the onion, celery, salt and pepper. After a few minutes add the sausage and Herbs de Provence. Then add the sage. Cook 5 minutes more and set aside.
  2. Take the squash and scoop out the flesh leaving a bit of squash around the edges to keep the skin in tact as you will be stuffing it.
  3. Add the flesh to a large mixing bow with the sausage mixture and grains. Stir.
  4. Place the squash shells on a baking dish and layer the sausage/squash/grain mixture with goat cheese.
  5. Stuff them full ;-)
  6. Bake at 205°C for 20 to 25 minutes till heated through

ENJOY alone or with turkey slices.


Vanessa’s Tips

This recipe takes a bit of time. I like to do it between two days.

Day 1 – while doing other things in the kitchen

  • Roast squash and let cool down.
  • Cook the grains and let cool down.
  • Put in fridge.

Day 2 – the day I want to eat this meal

  • Do steps 2 – 5

This dish keeps really well in the fridge for 3-4 days.