5 Healthy Holiday Party Recipes

Health Professional, Medical Reviewer

Thanksgiving is here and the holidays are right around the corner To avoid holiday weight gain, it's important to eat healthy and maintain your physical activity level over the next two months. Here are some recipes you might consider making for your Thanksgiving dinner or taking to that holiday party or family gathering over the holidays. Your friends and family will never know that they are loaded with nutrition!

#1: Cranberry Chutney

This is a great twist on traditional cranberry sauce. By using low-sugar juice and fresh fruit, the sugar content is greatly reduced.

  • 1 ½ cups low-sugar cranberry juice
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages fresh cranberries
  • 2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • ½ cup dried apricots, chopped1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup dried currants or golden raisins

In a saucepan, mix cranberry juice, vinegar, brown sugar, and allspice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until sugar is dissolved. Mix in cranberries, oranges, currants, apricots, apple, and orange peel. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature. Pour into serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve over turkey, ham, or as an appetizer over whole grain crackers and light cream cheese.

#2: Cranberry Chicken Risotto

This is a great cold weather dish. Using a small amount of light cream cheese creates a creamy dish with very little added fat.

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ¾ cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces light cream cheese
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Combine cranberries and hot water in small bowl and set aside. Combine onion, rice, and oil in a baking dish and microwave uncovered on high for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add chicken stock, wine, salt, and pepper and microwave covered on high for 12 minutes or until rice is slightly firm, stirring once halfway through. Toast almonds in a sauté pan over medium heat 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add chicken and celery to the baking dish and stir. Microwave, covered, on high for 4 minutes or until rice is tender and risotto appears creamy. Add cream cheese and almonds; stir until cheese is fully blended. Drain water from cranberries and fold them into the dish. Garnish with fresh parsley.

#3: Tangy Citrus Ambrosia Salad

This is a healthy twist on an old favorite. By omitting marshmallows and adding fresh fruit in its own juice, we've created a much healthier version that is dramatically lower in sugar, fat, and calories.

½ cup coconut flakes 1 jar (1 ½ pounds) citrus segments in juice1 lime ¼ teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 bags (5-6 ounces each) spring mix or mixed baby greens

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To toast coconut flakes, place coconut in a single layer in a jelly roll pan. Toast for 3 minutes or until golden. Drain citrus segments and reserve 1 tablespoon juice in a large bowl. Grate ½ teaspoon lime peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice from the lime; add both to bowl. Wisk in salt, pepper, and oil until blended. Add greens to dressing and toss to coat. Arrange greens on top of salad plates and top with citrus segments and toasted coconut.

#4: Festive Nut Medley

Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats. Toss them in this light sauce and you have an easy holiday treat to take to friends and relatives!

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Dash of black pepper

Combine all of the above ingredients together and roast in the oven at 350 °F on a baking sheet for 20 to 25 minutes.

#5: Holiday Turkey Meatballs

Whole wheat bread crumbs, lean turkey breast, and lean turkey sausage are substituted for traditional ingredients to create a healthy yet tasty appetizer for your holiday gathering.

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup chili sauce, divided
  • 1 cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 pound lean Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • ½ cup reduced sugar apricot preserves

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, Worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons chili sauce. Stir in the bread crumbs, onion, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Crumble turkey and sausage over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on a rack coated with cooking spray in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. In a large bowl, combine apricot preserves and remaining chili sauce. Add meatballs and toss gently. Place in a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until glazed, stirring every 3 minutes.