Yummy Healthy Holiday Side Dishes

Here are two holiday side dishes, which can help you when it comes to losing weight, but can also impress you guests. Eating healthily during the holidays can be difficult, but these will help you immensely. They might be slightly unexpected, but who said eating had to be boring?

Both of these recipes are healthy and cut down on calories. The good news is that they both taste so good; you won’t feel like you’re missing out. In fact, if you do it properly and exercise self-control, you’ll even be able to lose weight over the holidays.

Either of these recipes could easily find their way to a Thanksgiving or a Christmas table, the choice is yours:


Healthy Potato Gratin

A gratin is a layered potato casserole that originated in France. Usually a gratin is filled with cream, cheese and butter, but this version only uses light cream and a little amount of butter. You can also consider serving roasted root vegetables and even a butternut squash pudding to supplement this dish. This dish serves 6-8 people as a side dish.


You will need:

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces shallots, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons stemmed thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated or ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free cream (using heavy cream defeats the purpose of healthy!)


To prepare:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (190 C) Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Cover slices in a bowl of cool water to prevent oxidization.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the shallots, carrot, zucchini and peas.
  4. Stir until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and mace and mix.
  6. Layer the potatoes and vegetable mixture in a baking dish (9-by-13-inch or something similar).
  7. Make sure to first blot potato slices on a paper towel so they are not wet and soggy and then layer them across the bottom of the dish.
  8. Add some of the vegetable mixture over the potato slices.
  9. Make another layer of potato slices and add vegetable mixture.
  10. Repeat until the potato layer is the top of the casserole.
  11. Whisk the broth and cream in a large bowl with the nutmeg.
  12. Pour it over the casserole. Shake the casserole to ensure the liquid permeates all the spaces in the dish.
  13. Bake, uncovered, basting occasionally, until it is golden and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 hours.


Citrus Ambrosia Salad

This salad, which may seem a little out-there for the holidays, will provide an interesting talking point for your guests and go easy on the calories at the same time. The citrus segments in the salad will even give you a kick of Vitamin C, to ward off the sniffles and keep you feeling healthy. This salad evokes the down-home taste of the classic ambrosia salad without the oily, fattening mayonnaise.


You will need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 jar of refrigerated citrus segments in juice
  • 1 lime (or more, depending on taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 – 6 ounces mixed baby greens or spring mix with herbs


To Prepare:

  1. Toast coconut flakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place coconut in an oven-safe pan in a single layer. Toast 3 minutes or until golden. (Coconut can burn easily so remember to check after 2 minutes.)
  2. Drain the citrus segments, and reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice in a large bowl. From the limes, great 1/2 a teaspoon peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice; add to citrus juice in bowl. Whisk in 1/4 of a teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. In thin, steady stream, whisk in oil until blended.
  3. Add greens to dressing and toss to coat. Arrange dressed greens on 8 salad plates; top with citrus segments and coconut flakes.


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