Managing a Chronic Condition? Simple Recipes for Holiday Entertaining

Health Professional, Medical Reviewer

If you are currently living with a chronic health condition, sticking to foods that are good for you can be a challenge, particularly around the holidays.  HealthCentral took some traditional holiday recipes and gave them a makeover to create delicious dishes that everyone can enjoy. Health condition or not, these dishes are so tasty they might find their way into your holiday entertaining year after year.

Thyroid cancer

If you are receiving treatment for thyroid cancer, you are most likely following a low-iodine diet. These delicious recipes will fit into your diet and treatment plan.

Sweet Potato Casserole



  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 large apple (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ cup orange juice


Place sweet potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover them. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until tender. Once cool, peel and cut into ½-inch slices. Mix water, sugar, and cranberries in sauce pan and cook until the berries pop. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray or oil. Layer sweet potatoes, apple slices, and cranberries in pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and oil. Pour orange juice over top of casserole. Bake 30 minutes or until tender.

Pumpkin Butter


This butter can be stirred into oatmeal or served on top of rice cakes, bread, waffles, pancakes, or crackers.


  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves


Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook on medium-high heat stirring constantly until thickened (approximately 20-25 minutes). Remove from heat. Once cooled, it will keep up to two months in an airtight container in your refrigerator.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

If you are living with RA, anti-inflammatory eating can help to reduce your symptoms. These simple recipes can be quickly prepared, reducing your time in the kitchen.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels sprouts.


  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts (ends trimmed and halved)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread bacon in 13x9 inch pan. Roast 5 minutes in oven and stir. Add sprouts, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sprouts are tender and lightly browned. Add vinegar, stir to combine, and roast another 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Cocoa Banana Walnut Bread


This delicious bread contains a generous amount of cocoa powder, since chocolate has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.


  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or oil. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and allspice. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then stir in sugar, yogurt, oil, molasses, bananas and vanilla. Add sifted dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir gently. Fold in walnuts and pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes and cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

Crohn’s disease

Following a low-fat, low-fiber diet can be tricky, especially around the holidays. If you are living with Crohn’s disease, try this tasty Biscotti recipe. Omitting the nuts from these cookies helps to decrease the fiber content.

Holiday Biscotti



  • ⅓ cup butter (softened)
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cups dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • ½ tablespoon orange peel (finely shredded)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt, and beat until combined. Add in eggs and vanilla, followed by the flour mixture. Beat until thoroughly combined.

Divide dough in half, placing each half in separate bowls. Into half of the dough, stir in the melted chocolate. Into the other half of the dough, stir in the orange peel.

Divide each half of the dough into three portions. With lightly floured hands, shape each dough portion into a rope about 14 inches long. Place a rope of each color side by side on an ungreased cookie sheet. Twist ropes around each other several times. Flatten slightly to a two-inch width. Repeat with the other ropes to make three twists total, placing twists about four inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake about 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for about an hour or until completely cool.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Transfer baked twists to a cutting board. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices on the same cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until dry and crisp. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Sparkling Holiday Punch



  • 2 lemons
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 can (6 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 liter club soda
  • 2 bottles (750 ml each) sparkling apple cider


Thinly slice the lemons and oranges and place in a large punch bowl. Pour in thawed lemonade. Stir in club soda and sparkling apple cider. Add ice cubes as needed and serve.

The Bottom Line

With a few simple substitutions, traditional dishes can be modified to accommodate anyone’s unique nutritional needs. Talk with your physician or consult a registered dietitian if you need more guidance on healthy eating while living with a chronic health condition. A well-balanced diet can dramatically impact the way you feel, increase your energy level, and improve your overall health.

See more helpful articles:

What People With Rheumatoid Arthritis Should and Shouldn’t Eat

Foods to Avoid With Crohn’s Disease

What Foods are Bad for Thyroid Patients?