Lighten Up Your Holiday Side Dishes

Side dishes round out our holiday meals and add color and texture to the menu. We enjoy our traditional family favorites that remind us of good times as well as inspire new warm memories. After spending a lot of time on the entrée, you may not want to spend a lot of time on side dishes.  It can be a great stress reliever for the cook if everyone brings their favorite side dish to the meal.  Some family favorites can be laden with less than healthy ingredients, but you can still make delicious side dishes that don’t sabotage your efforts to eat healthier.

10 Tips for Healthier Holiday Side Dishes

1. Use reduced-fat or skim milk instead of cream, or use non-fat powdered creamer to add creaminess to soups or mashed potatoes.

2. Buy reduced-sodium varieties of favorite canned soup or vegetables.

3. Sub in non-fat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

4. Replace some of the fat in baked goods with applesauce.

5. Skip the candied yams and bake sweet potato “fries” in the oven with a little canola oil, salt, pepper and paprika.

6. Reduce the amount of high-calorie toppings, such as nuts, cheese or frosting.

7. Punch up flavor with a strong cheese such as extra-sharp cheddar so you can use less.

8. Swap out half of all-purpose flour for whole-wheat flour in baked goods for more fiber and nutrition.

9. Add fresh herbs and crushed garlic to vegetable dishes in place of salt.

10. Give whole-wheat bread a try in stuffing to boost nutrition and add fiber.

Roasting is a great way to prepare vegetables. It is quick, easy and brings out the natural sweetness. Dense vegetables need to be cut up into bite-sized chunks for faster cooking. Keep the pieces about the same size so that they all get done at the same time. Just toss them with oil, a little salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven until brown around the edges. Try this recipe courtesy of Food&Wine.com:

Broccoli, Mushroom and Red Onion Roast

Yield: 6

Serving size: 3/4 cup

Ingredients
  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 1 package of mushrooms (8-ounces)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Wash broccoli. Cut into long stalks. Wipe off mushrooms with a damp paper towel and cut in half. Slice red onion into 1/3 inch wide slices.

3. Place broccoli stems in a large bowl with one tablespoon of the olive oil and toss to coat. Spread broccoli onto a baking sheet.

4. Place sliced onion and halved mushrooms in the same bowl and toss with the reserved olive oil. Spread mixture on a separate baking sheet.

5. Season both sheets of vegetables with salt and pepper.

6. Place sheets in oven and roast for about 10 minutes. Turn vegetables over and roast another 10 minutes.

7. Place broccoli on a serving platter. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over onion and mushroom mixture and stir to coat. Top broccoli with the mixture and serve.