Healthy Happy Holidays!! Nutrition Blog


Healthy Happy Holidays!!

Tiffany Batsakis, MS, RD, LD

Dietitian for Meals on Wheels of San Antonio

Senior Nutrition Blog Entry – November, 2014

It’s that time of year again- the holidays!  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and all the days in between when we gather, celebrate, and share with our friends and family.  It is this time of year when people typically let their healthy habits fall by the wayside and indulge in the foods and festivities of the season.    If we’re not careful, these habits can lead to some unwanted and unhealthy consequences, so let’s plan out a few ways to make some healthful choices this holiday season!

I know that we all like to indulge from time to time, it is human nature, but let’s look at some ways to minimize unwanted holiday weight gain and stay healthy along the way.  Be mindful of the quantity of food you put on your plate.  Excess calories can lead to weight gain, so a good start may be to use smaller dishes.  Begin your meals with a nice, colorful salad.  Vegetables fill us up with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and this may keep us from overeating at the dinner table.  Choose nutrient dense starchy foods, such as the butternut squash, cranberry, and apple bake below.  Sweet potatoes, when not covered with brown sugar and marshmallows, are an excellent side dish and are full of fiber, potassium, and Vitamin A, all beneficial nutrients, especially for seniors.  Light meat is typically lower in calories and fat so keep this in mind when carving your turkey!  If you have a sweet tooth, choose your favorite dessert and have one piece of it.  That way, you do not feel deprived, but satisfy your craving.  An even better choice would be to have a dessert made with fresh fruit such as poached pears or baked apples with cinnamon.  If you are visiting others or going to a gathering, share something that is healthy for everyone.  A nice plate of freshly chopped vegetables with some hummus or dipping sauce is a great appetizer before any holiday meal.

The side dish below is nutritious and delicious.  It incorporates some seasonal flavors and may introduce you to some produce you might not commonly consume, such as cranberries.  Here, they provide an alternative to the sugar laden jelly often paired with turkey.  Did you know cranberries can help prevent UTIs, reduce LDL, raise HDL cholesterol, and decrease inflammation?  All the more reason to give this recipe a try!  I hope you enjoy it!

Be mindful of your food choices this holiday season, but most of all, be happy, healthy, and enjoy your times with friends and family!


Butternut, Cranberry, and Apple Bake

This recipe comes from

Usually, I modify things a bit, but this is so good I decided to leave it as it!  For some added color and texture, however, you can add in a diced sweet potato, or even a purple potato-that would make a beautiful side dish to any holiday spread!


Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Apple Bake

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups (about 1/2 bag) fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed (don’t thaw if frozen)
3-4 apples, peeled and cored, cut into cubes
juice and zest of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil plus more for baking dish
1-2 Tbsp. fresh herbs, finely minced (sage, thyme, rosemary)
pinch of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
salt and pepper


In a very large bowl, whisk together orange zest and juice, maple syrup, olive oil, herbs, and spices (if using).  Add the butternut squash, cranberries and apples.  Toss to coat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously grease a 9″ by 13″ or two smaller baking dishes with olive oil.  Spread the squash, cranberries, and apples evenly in the baking dish.  Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper.

Bake for about 30-45 minutes or more until the squash is tender and the cranberries have split open and released their juice.  Serve warm or room temperature.

This makes enough for 6-8 people.  You can leftovers the next day over mixed greens with your favorite vinaigrette and a sprinkling of toasted pecans.  Add some turkey and you have a new reincarnation of your Thanksgiving Day meal!



Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 145; Fat: 1.7 g; Sodium: 7 mg; Potassium: 440 mg; Carbohydrates: 34; Fiber: 5 g; Protein: 1.2 g; Vitamin A: 199 %; Vitamin C: 45%.


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