Don’t Skimp on the Holidays

Melanie Rovinsky

With the holiday season upon us and a few million Thanksgiving calories consumed, I can already feel my jeans getting snug. The season of indulgence is here, and so is the overabundance of high-calorie appetizers, decadent cocktails, hearty meals, creamy side dishes, and rich desserts. And while camping out in the gym may seem like the only way to combat all the delicious food you are bound to consume, that method certainly will not make for an enjoyable holiday. Deprivation is no fun either… and fairly unrealistic considering how incredibly yummy your grandma’s homemade pie is. This holiday season, take advantage of the healthy options right in front of you! For a delicious and healthy holiday, don’t skip these staples:


That’s right, the star of the Thanksgiving dinner is also good for you! And although it’s tempting to eat 15 helpings of that Christmas honey baked ham, if the bird is offered, feel free to dig in! High in protein, with about 32 grams per four ounce serving, turkey will actually help fill you up and may keep you from “needing” that second slice of pecan pie. Turkey meat is full of B vitamins, contains selenium (for a healthy immune system), and is low in saturated fat.

Healthy tip: Marinate your turkey in citrus juice, olive oil, and herbs; then grill it for a flavorful and juicy meat.


Nothing screams winter holidays like the smell of peppermint, but did you know that the peppermint herb can actually make you feel better? Peppermint has been used since ancient times to cure abdominal related maladies. The menthol in peppermint oil effectively eases cramps, bloating, and other unpleasant symptoms of overeating. Peppermint has also been shown to relieve tension.

Healthy tip: For a lighter, yet still satisfying, alternative to eggnog, add a few drops of peppermint extract to sugar-free hot chocolate.


Delicious and nutritious, mashed potatoes or baked yams are both old regulars around the holidays. The health benefits of sweet and regular potatoes are often masked beneath pounds of butter or loads of marshmallows. However, unadulterated potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, protein, and calcium. In addition, good old Idaho potatoes contain fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, and although a quickly digested starch, contain just about 110 calories per spud.

Healthy tip: Roast cubed sweet potatoes (drizzled with olive oil and seasoned) and diced onion until tender, then toss with baby spinach and honey.


Don’t skip dessert! Pumpkin is full of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. The antioxidants found in pumpkins have been shown to promote healthy vision and boost the immune system. The fiber found in pumpkins has even been shown to help individuals curb their appetites.

Healthy Tip: Fill phyllo dough fluted cups with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, and chopped walnuts. 1 phyllo dough cup has about 10 calories and no fat, as opposed to a slice of piecrust at 100+ calories and 5+ grams of fat.