The holiday season is about festive traditions, memories with loved ones and the comfort of home-cooked meals. But even the best holiday table doesn’t always feature the healthiest food. As a senior, wellness is essential. The food you eat can directly impact your physical and cognitive function.
Sure, it’s normal to indulge in your favorite treats, but there are tons of delicious and nutritious options worth preparing. So whether you’re cooking for the whole family, a small group of friends, neighbors, or even yourself, here are some easy, healthy recipes to include in the rotation this holiday season.
Small Bites and Starters
All the tastiest spreads begin with a plate of “small bites” before the meal. From classic finger-food snacks to globally inspired noshes, here are a few irresistible appetizers to enjoy while dinner cooks in the oven:
- Cranberry Jalapeño Dip: This recipe combines the unexpected zing of jalapeños with the tartness of fresh seasonal cranberries and a natural hint of sweet honey. Serve it with various customizable dippers such as raw vegetables, crunchy jicama rods, multi-grain crackers, and whole wheat pita bread triangles.
- Goat Cheese Grape Balls: This recipe is addictively snackable with its round, bite-size shape and unique flavor profile. Fortunately, it’s also packed with antioxidants from the grapes and nuts and selenium from the goat cheese. This essential nutrient can help lower your risk of cancer, thyroid issues, and heart disease.
- Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas: This recipe will remind you of popcorn (without all the excess butter). Toss protein-rich chickpeas in a warm maple cinnamon spice coating, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and pinches of sea salt. Finally, roast the morsels in the oven to crisp, crackling perfection.
Main Course Dishes
What’s a holiday feast without a crowd-pleasing main course? An entrée is the centerpiece of your table, so make it colorful, flavorful, and memorable. These main courses are sure to satisfy all palates:
- Lemon Herb Roast Chicken: This recipe requires minimum effort with maximum reward. Chicken is a lean, nutritious protein that delivers a juicy texture—plus, it acts as a sponge to soak in the robust flavors of thyme, lemon, and rosemary.
- Hasselback Sweet Potatoes: This recipe channels all the comfort of traditional sweet potato casserole with a lighter, healthier twist. The spuds are cut into thin, Hasselback slices, brushed with cumin, cayenne, and olive oil, and baked until tender. Top them with Greek yogurt sauce before serving.
- Brussels Sprouts with Fig Compote: This recipe utilizes fresh, seasonal produce at its finest. Roast a batch of Brussels sprouts until caramelized, toss the veggies with a zesty homemade fig compote, and throw in toasty pecans for a final touch. Diced apples or winter squash would also be right at home in this festive dish.
Cookies and Desserts
Don’t forget to save room for dessert! This time of year is heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. With just a few healthy (and just as delicious) ingredient swaps, we’ve got some holiday treats no meal should be without:
- Cinnamon Walnut Sugar Cookies: This recipe is so delicious that you will be shocked to learn it contains only natural sweeteners. And as a bonus, it’s both gluten-free and vegan! The combination of maple, walnut, vanilla, and cinnamon is tasty nostalgia.
- Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie: This recipe belongs on any seasonal dessert table, no matter how many mouths you plan to feed. After all, is it even the holidays without a slice of pumpkin pie? This dairy-free riff on the traditional favorite uses natural pumpkin puree for a healthy dose of fiber, potassium, manganese, and calcium.
- Whole Wheat Gingerbread Loaf: This recipe is about as classic as it gets—but with a nutritious spin that’ll make you want to cut an extra slice. The warmth of gingerbread spices infuses the loaf with coziness, whole wheat flour keeps it light, and a sprinkle of cranberries and pistachios lends colorful flair.
Embrace the Healthier Side of Cooking this Holiday Season.
With senior wellness at the top of your mind, this curated recipe list will ensure a holiday season full of delicious and nutritious eating. From appetizers to entrées and desserts, there are so many delicious options to choose from—and chances are, your guests won’t even notice the healthier swaps.