Traditionally, the holidays were a time when families would augment their mostly local, vegetable, and grain-based diets with meats and sweets for a celebratory feast. Today, we carry forward this tradition with parties and desserts galore. However, with so many festivities on the calendar, this time of year can easily escalate into a pattern of overindulgence.

Below we have a few tips for getting the most nutritional bang for your buck during the holiday season so that you can toast to good food and good health.

Make a Hearty, Potluck-Friendly Salad instead of a Casserole

In a season of heavy comfort food dishes, greens are sorely lacking. But when dressed up with citrus, pomegranates, or a bright dressing, the acidity of a delicious salad perfectly balances the creamy dishes that will inevitably wind up on the buffet table. Plus, many salads are also quite portable if you wait to dress them until serving, making them a great potluck pick.


Use Whole Grain Flour in Place of the All-Purpose Flour in Your Cookies

Cookies come in all shapes and textures and don’t need to rise as much as cakes or breads, making them extremely adaptable to whole grain flour. In cookies that are already brown or golden in color, such as molasses cookies, spiced cookies, chocolate cookies, or even peanut butter cookies, we’d be willing to bet your taste testers won’t even notice the difference. In most cases, you can substitute all of the all-purpose flour in a cookie recipe with whole wheat flour without making any other adjustments. Gluten-free whole grain flours (such as sorghum, teff, or quinoa) won’t give quite the same structure or crumb, but they do bring rich, nutty flavors that can enhance the overall cookie experience. Here are a few whole grain cookie recipes to get you started.


Serve an Antipasto Platter Instead of a Charcuterie Platter

Give your guests something to nibble on while they mingle or wait for dinner by offering a colorful, nutrient-dense antipasto platter. A great antipasto platter has a balance of both sweet and savory offerings, as well as some sort of dip or spread. See below for some ideas:


  • Dried or fresh figs, cut into quarters
  • Warm dates stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts, or tahini and dark chocolate chips
  • Dried apricots
  • Sliced pears (they tend to not brown as quickly as apples)
  • Grapes


  • Olive oil roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, rainbow carrots, beets, etc.)
  • Nuts, such as Marcona almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or pistachios
  • Olives
  • Whole grain crackers or whole grain pita chips
  • Artisanal raw milk cheese

Dips & Spreads

For more ideas on how to give classic comfort food dishes a healthy, Mediterranean Diet-inspired twist, download our free brochure: Make Your Meals Mediterranean.

Kelly Toups, Director of Nutrition

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