A Healthier Holiday Menu

A Healthier Holiday

Vanessa Lennick, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

A healthier holiday article from a Registered Dietitian and you’re probably expecting a lot of “eat this, not that” advice. Or “here’s how to make your favorites healthier” type recipes… am I right?! Here’s the reality, Thanksgiving and Christmas are only a few days out of the year and instead of over-restricting, enjoy your favorite foods. Let’s be honest, mashed cauliflower does not taste as good as my mom’s mashed potatoes!

As a Registered Dietitian, if I could make-over your holiday meals it would be to simply add more vegetables. Don’t complicate it. Look for simple ways to add more vegetables. You will add quality to your meals that will actually fuel your body and even keep you from overeating. (It’s hard to overeat on broccoli!) Here are three recipes to do just that.


Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad

This Roasted Beet & Carrot Salad is not only pretty to look at, it’s also bursting with flavour and nutrients! The perfect salad for entertaining during the holidays! Serves: 4


  • A can of sliced beets or 2 medium beets, trimmed, peeled, quartered and sliced a ¼ inch thick
  • Bag of fresh pre cut carrot chips or 2 large carrots, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • Package of Pre Cut and clean kale or 6 cups chopped kale (stems removed and cut into smaller pieces)
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • Optional Add Ins:
  • 4 oz. goats cheese


  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine beets, carrots, 2 tbsp. of the olive oil and salt and pepper. Add carrots and beets to a baking sheet and roast in oven for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven and toss the shallots and pumpkin seeds with the beets and carrots on the baking sheet. Roast for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, place the chopped kale in the same bowl where the beets and carrots were. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and massage into kale leaves with your hands until the leaves are bright green and tender, about 2-5 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing.
  5. Remove vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Add vegetable mixture to the bowl with the kale and toss with the dressing until well combined. Add the dried cranberries. Allow salad to sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Spinach Cheese Balls


  • 1 frozen package of spinach (10 oz), thawed and thoroughly drained
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (may need more depending on moistness of spinach)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Marinara sauce for dipping


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.  (Don’t use wax paper 😉 that’s what I did accidently and the fire alarms were blasting)
  2. Mix all ingredients (except marinara dipping sauce) in a medium bowl. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Herbed Ricotta and Walnut Appetizer


  • 1 large sweet potatoes sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon Grapeseed or olive oil
  • Ground cinnamon

Herbed Ricotta:

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1-½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt or to taste

For Serving:

  • 1 cup raw walnuts roasted pre-chopped
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • honey


  1. Add all of the ingredients for the herbed ricotta to a small bowl and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add the sweet potato slices to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with grapeseed or olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt and ground cinnamon over rounds. Use your hands to rub the oil and seasoning on both sides of the sweet potato rounds. Arrange rounds on a large baking sheet (or two if necessary). Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the rounds, then bake for another 17 to 20 minutes, or until rounds are cooked through and crispy on the edges
  3. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet. 10 minutes before the potato rounds are finished cooking, place the walnuts in the oven to roast.
  4. Remove sweet potato rounds and walnuts from the oven. Place walnuts on a cutting board and chop.
  5. Place oven on high broil setting and move the oven wrack second to the top shelf. Place a dollop of herbed ricotta on each sweet potato round and place in the oven for 2 minutes, just until ricotta is melty and warm.
  6. Add chopped walnuts and dried cranberries to the rounds. Drizzle with honey and serve!