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9 festive recipes for healthy holiday meals

November 16, 2023 | Valerie Elwell
A holiday table with young mom feeding her daughter.

Variety is the spice of life, especially for holiday meals. We've got you covered with these delicious nontraditional options — from appetizers and sides to main dishes and desserts.

Since this time of year can be challenging when you're trying to eat healthy, these dishes provide lots of options to let you indulge and still stay on track.

Perk up your table with some of our most imaginative holiday recipes, many of them straight from the kitchen of Jessica VanRoo, executive chef of the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, part of UCI Health.


Mushroom Lentil Paté

A delicious vegan appetizer full of high-quality protein, fiber, iron, folate and selenium that protect against heart disease.

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Lentil mushroom pate' served with crackers and crudite'.


Salmon Spread with Vegetables

Serve this lighter version of a traditionally high-calorie spread featuring low-fat cheeses and served on cucumber slices or cherry tomatoes instead of crackers.

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The delicious salmon spread is served on cucumber disks with a bowl of veggies in the background.


Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Enjoy this a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, comforting holiday soup that is packed with calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

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Butternut squash soup garnished with pumpkin seeds and Greek yogurt is tasty and filling.


Baked Artichoke and Spinach Polenta with Gruyère

A tasty casserole with the comfort food creaminess we all crave during the holidays but also packed with vital nutrients.

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Baked artichoke and spinach polenta served on a blue dish.


Roasted Garlic Ratatouille

An eye-catcher at any gathering, full of vegetables with a garlicky aroma that's sure to tempt a hungry crowd.

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Roasted garlic ratatouille in a turquoise baking dish.


Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

A clever change of pace from the usual turkey, ham or roast beef entrees.

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Slices of stuffed pork tenderloin covered in sauce displayed on a white plate with lemon garnish.


Holiday Shrimp Paella

Start a new holiday tradition with this festive dish that is high in protein, low in fat and full of omega-3 fatty acids that can promote heart and brain health.

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Colorful holiday shrimp paella is served in a tarnished metal bowl.


Tiramisu Trifle

Another show-stopper for the holiday table. Our version of this decadent dessert uses silken tofu to add protein and a velvety smooth texture.

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Tiramisu trifle on a gold platter with fresh mint garnish.


Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Pull out that Bundt pan and serve up some nostalgic happiness along with a sprinkling of anti-inflammatory spices.

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Various sizes of gingerbread Bundt cakes topped with maple glaze are displayed on a platter.


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