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Stay The Course -- Healthy Holiday Recipes that Put Your Health First

Thanks to our very own Helen Yuan, RD, for putting this menu together.

The holidays are just around the corner! But with all the celebration and joy comes some fear, anxiety, and guilt as well. Year after year,  I have patients tell me “I’m going to work on building healthier eating habits, BUT you know the holidays are coming up and I want to enjoy myself”. What kind of dietitian -- no, what kind of human would I be if I were to shake my finger at people and tell them they can’t enjoy the festive season for the sake of maybe keeping off a few extra pounds?

 In an ideal world, one single day of overindulgence should not completely unravel all the hard work that a person has put into making healthy changes to their dietary and lifestyle habits. However, some people have a tendency to associate failure with having that extra serving of mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner. And that guilt can sometimes lead them to “give up” on maintaining any semblance of a balanced eating pattern. It can be followed by feelings of hopelessness and defeat, which can result in emotional eating and weight cycling that carries on for weeks, months, or even years.

 If that synopsis feels familiar to you, don’t fret! Here are some healthy, whole food, nutrient-dense recipes that put a spin on a few classic Thanksgiving dishes so that you can keep the annual holiday guilt at bay and enjoy the traditional fall flavors that you love.

 Oven Roasted Turkey Breast(serves 4)


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 leaves fresh sage
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2-3 lbs turkey breast, patted dry



  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set up oven so there is only the bottom rack. Add the turkey breast to a large roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels inside and out.
  2. Mash the butter, herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set 2-3 tablespoons aside for later.
  3. Lift the skin from the turkey breast and spread butter mixture inside. Smooth the skin back down to spread the butter mixture all over the breast. Be careful not to tear the skin as the butter will drip out when cooking.
  4. Roast for 90 minutes, or until the innermost part of the breast is cooked to 165 degrees (this is vital for food safety). Top with remaining butter and let rest for 20 minutes before serving.


 Quinoa Stuffing(serves 4)


  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 ounce (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the stock and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the onion mixture from the heat and add the quinoa to the pan. Stir in the sage and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Transfer the stuffing to an 8-inch square pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Garnish with parsley before serving.


 Carrot Ginger Soup(serves 4)


  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots (6-7 large carrots), peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock/broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Chopped chives, parsley, dill or fennel for garnish



  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions and carrots, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not let the onions or carrots brown. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the carrots and onions as they cook.
  2. Add the stock/broth, water, and ginger. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the carrots soften, about 20 minutes.
  3. Purée the soup with a stick blender, or working in small batches, pour the soup into a blender and purée until completely smooth. Only fill the blender bowl a third full with the hot liquid and keep one hand pressing down on the cap of the blender to keep it from popping off
  4. Add more salt to taste. Garnish with chopped chives, parsley, or fennel fronds.


 Garlic Mashed Cauliflower(makes 4 servings)


  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon cream cheese, softened
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Cook the cauliflower. You can choose between two options:
    1. To Steam the Cauliflower: Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower, cover, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes.
    2. To Boil Cauliflower: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook until tender, 10 minutes. Drain well, pressing with paper towels or a clean dish towel to remove as much excess water as possible.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Blend or mash the cauliflower:
    1. Using a Blender/Food Processer: Transfer half the cauliflower to a food processor or blender; cover and blend on high. Add remaining cauliflower florets, one at a time, until vegetables are creamy. Blend in garlic, cream cheese, salt, and black pepper.
    2. Using a Masher: Return to pot and mash cauliflower with a potato masher until smooth and no large chunks remain. Stir in cream cheese and milk and season with salt and pepper and mash until completely combined and creamy. (Add a couple tablespoons more milk until you reach desired consistency.)


 Quick Onion Gravy (serves 4)



  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (use a gluten-free flour if preferred)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium)
  • Low sodium soy sauce or tamarai to taste (optional)



  1. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion in the butter until the onion is caramelized. If you're in a rush, you can do this quickly, but the slower you go, the more rich the flavour will become.
  2. Mix in flour and cook for 1 minute. Now whisk in the broth and cook until the gravy thickens. Add soy sauce or tamari to taste if needed, this will also make the colour a richer brown.


 French Green Beans(serves 4)


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 pound very small, firm green beans, cleaned
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons peeled and chopped shallots
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice



  1. Bring the water to a boil. Add the beans and cover the pot. Continue cooking the beans, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes until tender but firm. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. At serving time, heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the shallots and saute for about 1 minute, until the shallots start to brown.
  3. Add the beans, salt and pepper, and saute briefly. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve


 Easy Crustless Pumpkin Pie (serves 8)


  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of raw honey
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves



  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch glass pie plate with butter or coconut oil
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin puree, honey, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves. Using a hand whisk or mixer, whisk until mixed well together.
  3. Use a spatula to add pie filling to the pie plate. Bake until the center appears set and comes clean with a toothpick, about 45 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool completely before transferring uncovered to the fridge to “set” for at least 6 hours before serving.

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