A New Holiday Tradition—Tasty Recipes that are Healthy, Too

Nov 26, 2013, 5:01 PM, Posted by


Thanksgiving is almost upon us, ushering in a month-long season of holiday parties, groaning boards of food, favorite family recipes, cookie swaps, and an extra five pounds around the waistline. Instead of just giving in to the excess and making January the month of dieting, perhaps we could make a few adjustments. I’ve asked around the Foundation staff for some healthy holiday recipes instead of the usual green bean casserole and cream-laden sides. Here are some tried and true alternatives, that are kid–friendly as well!

In fact, why not invite any children about the house (or adults who are still kids at heart) to help whip up some of these dishes. Children love to grate, stir, and shake, and the older ones will go at chopping with a vengeance. It’s never too early to teach them to cook, as discussed on this blog a few days ago.

Besides the recipes below, you might also want to browse a few websites with healthy recipes:

  • The Mayo Clinic puts out a great cookbook and also has recipes online that are much, much better than you might expect from a hospital.
  • Eating Well is one of several commercial web sites that lists not only recipes but their nutritional breakdown.
  • The New York Times has put together a vegetarian Thanksgiving database, you can pick out one dish or build an entire meat-free meal.
  • If cooking intimidates you, then check out Bad Home Cooking, one of my favorite food blogs, where author Julie Tilsner shares some tasty recipes along with her haphazard efforts to make them, and get her kids to eat them.

If you have any favorite websites and recipes that are relatively healthy, please share in the comments. I think this should be a new holiday tradition--better living through cooking!

Zucchini "No Crust" Pie with Provolone 

  • 3-1/2 cup grated zucchini (use smaller ones)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh basil chopped
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup grated provolone cheese (reduced fat can be used)
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and reserve one tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Spray pie plate with cooking spray and spoon in all of the ingredients. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the warm pie (you can run under the broiler to brown if you want). Optional--garnish with whole basil leaves.

--Cyndy Kiely

Honey Mustard Onions

  • 1 pound boiling (small) onions
  • Honey
  • Champagne or sweet mustard

Wash, peel and boil onions. Drain and place in mixing bowl.

While onions are still warm, stir in honey and mustard to preferred taste.

Layers of onions may fall apart, but that is OK.

Serve immediately.

--Tanya Barrientos

Roasted Cauliflower and Apples with Herbs

(Tip: Just about any vegetable is better roasted, and this recipe can be adapted to all kinds--brussels sprouts, carrots, fennel,  squash, are a few suggestions.)

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 unpeeled apple, cored and cut into large cubes
  • Fresh basil, thyme or other fresh herb

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the cauliflower, apple and onion with olive oil and about a teaspoon of salt (or to taste) and freshly ground pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until cauliflower turns brown around edges. Put in a bowl and toss with torn up basil leaves or other fresh herb (thyme works very nicely).

--Cathy Arnst via The Herbal Kitchen cookbook

Frozen Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

  • One Pint of strawberries
  • One bag of chocolate chips
  • One clean ice cube tray
  • Place strawberries in ice cube tray, stem up
  • Place chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave on high until melted
  • Pour chocolate over berries
  • Freeze
  • Eat

--Erin Kelly

The following two recipes are from the great Chef Joe at the RWJF cafeteria, and they are delicious.

Hatch Chile Corn Pudding


  • 16 oz. frozen corn kernels thawed and drained, at room temperature
  • 1-2 Tbsp. of butter
  • 1.5 oz. diced onion
  • 2 clove garlic diced
  • 1 can (1.5 oz.) green diced chiles
  • 2 oz. liquid eggs or 2 eggs
  • 1 C. Greek yogurt
  • ½ C. Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • Seasonings (chili powder, onion powder, cumin, salt and pepper)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté first five ingredients in butter and puree half the mixture in food processor. Add seasonings.Then blend together eggs and Greek yogurt in a separate bowl. Add the eggs and yogurt to the sautéed corn then pour the pureed corn in and blend. Lastly, blend in the grated Monterey jack cheese. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick spray and bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 8

145 cal, 4 g fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 19 g carbs, 7 g protein, 2 g fiber, 300 mg sodium

Sweet Potato Cannelloni


  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound each)
  • ¾ C. low-fat cottage cheese
  • ¾ C. diced Fuji apple (skin on)
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 piece (2 oz.) parmesan cheese, half grated and half shaved
  • ¼ Tsp. coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp. walnut oil
  • 1/3 C. chopped toasted walnuts (about 1 oz.)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap 1 sweet potato in parchment, and then in foil. Pierce several times with a fork. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, peel remaining sweet potatoes. Using a mandoline or a chef's knife, cut potatoes, lengthwise, into very thin slices until you have 30 slices. Trim each to a 2 x 4 inch rectangle.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the sweet potato slices and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place slices on a baking sheet to cool slightly. Repeat. Remove peel from baked sweet potato and puree flesh in a food processor until smooth. Add cottage cheese and puree until smooth. Transfer potato-cheese mixture to a large bowl. Stir in apple, chives, grated parmesan, salt and pepper.

Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of a sweet potato slice and roll up. Place, seam side down, in dish. Repeat. (Cannelloni can be refrigerated, covered, overnight; bring to room temperature before baking).

Brush oil over cannelloni. Bake until heated through, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with walnuts and shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6

140 cal, 4 g fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 23 g carbs, 4 g protein, 1 g fiber, 207 mg sodium,  230 mg potassium