Holiday meals don’t have to be a weighty issue

By Angela Shelf Medearis

Roasted vegetables in a ceramic pot. (Photo credit:Depositphotos)

November is traditionally about family, friends, food, feasting and abundance. While it may seem almost impossible to maintain healthy habits during the holiday season, the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter has come up with some simple steps on ways to enjoy the festivities without putting on weight. Choose healthy habits this holiday season and do without the regrets later!

Serve Turkey Twice

Turkey is a great source of protein that is low in fat, salt and calories. Consider serving turkey at both Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of beef roast or ham, which are higher in fat. Keep in mind that the healthiest part of the turkey is the breast.

Try Whole Grains in Dressing

Use whole-wheat bread instead of white in a traditional dressing recipe. Better yet, try brown or wild rice as the main ingredient — you’ll use less butter. Adding more flavorful veggies like onions, garlic or shallots to the mix increases aroma and flavor with fewer calories.

Roast Your Vegetables

According to the newsletter, roasting brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables, from carrots to asparagus to corn. Eliminating the soaking and cooking in boiling water also keeps nutrients locked in.

What’s for Dessert?

Tufts does not suggest skipping dessert, but offers some ways to make a wise choice. For example, instead of three different pies, have just one favorite and serve it with a fresh fruit salad. To make it more festive, make the fruit into a parfait. Strawberry and kiwi slices layered with low-fat yogurt make a delicious and decorative finale to any meal.

Drink Fewer Calories

The “What America Drinks” study found that Americans consume 22 percent of total calories in liquid form. Why not serve water or low-calorie drinks and save the calories for other holiday  festivities.

Get a Move On

Before, during or after watching the big football game, take a walk or have a touch football game of your own. After consuming extra calories at the dinner table, gather your friends and family for an after-dinner walk to burn some of those calories and balance things out.

My delicious recipe for Roasted Vegetables With Herbs is healthy, easy and very versatile. You can use 2 pounds of high-moisture vegetables like eggplant, peppers, zucchini, fennel, onions, Brussels sprouts or the ingredients suggested below. Slice them and cut into chunks or wedges. Roast at 450 F until golden brown all over, 10 to 40 minutes depending on variety and the size of the pieces.

You also can use 1 to 2 pounds hardy green vegetables like broccoli rabe, snow peas, green beans, kale, collard greens, chard or cherry tomatoes, trimmed. Roast at 450 F for 7 to 15 minutes.


2 to 3 pounds root or dense vegetable, peeled if you like, and cut into 1-inch chunks or wedges (carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes, rutabaga, winter squashes)

1/2 cup oil (olive, coconut or grapeseed)

2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme), torn or chopped


  1. Heat oven to 425 F. Toss vegetables with oil, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.
  2. Roast 30 minutes to an hour, stirring at least once or twice and turning pan during roasting for even cooking and browning. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and plenty of torn herbs on top.


Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.


© 2019 King Features Synd., Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis