Healthy & Hearty Holiday Feasting

As the days grow shorter, the weather colder (for most anyway) and we turn our sights to indoor activities for the holidays, many of us inevitably start thinking more about comfort foods.

This is the right time of year for festive feasting, but that doesn’t always have to mean heavy, unhealthy meals.

Here are a few suggestions from our docs for holiday foods that don’t have to weigh you down.

Fresh Green Bean Casserole


  • 3-4 shallots, in their skins
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 lb fresh green beans, stemmed and halved crosswise
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • TB unsalted butter
  • TB flour
  • 1 1/2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or mushroom)
  • tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the unskinned shallots on a baking dish, roast until soft, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, skin and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Bring a medium-large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste. Add the green beans and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer the beans to a large bowl.

In the same saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, season with 1 teaspoon salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the beans.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broth, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the shallots, 1 teaspoon of the thyme and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir to combine evenly.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the pan. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of thyme to bread crumbs and scatter over the vegetables. Bake uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the crumbs brown, about 20 minutes.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pears


  • 16 slices of favorite squash (I prefer butternut), cut about 1/4 inch thick
  • TB olive oil, for brushing
  • Coarse salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 Anjou pears, ripe, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • Seeds from half a pomegranate
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese (feta or blue cheese also work well with this recipe)
  • Fresh baby greens and kale - about 8 cups


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB maple syrup
  • Salt, pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel the squash and cut slices. Arrange on a bake sheet, brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt, pepper. Place in preheated oven. Roast for 10 minutes, turn over and roast another 10. Meanwhile, prep remaining ingredients while squash cooks. Once it's done, arrange on a platter, top with greens, pears, pomegranate seeds, nuts, and cheese. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar, adjust seasonings and shake it all around. Drizzle on top of salad and serve immediately. Serves 4. 

Tangy Tomato Dip


  • 6 TB light cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained well
  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Dash garlic powder
  • Dash hot sauce (optional)
  • 2-4 TB buttermilk


In a food processor, combine the cottage cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, lemon juice, garlic powder and hot sauce if using. Pulse until mixture forms a slightly textured dip, adding buttermilk to thin as desired.

Scrape mixture into a bowl and serve with fresh vegetables, baked potato or pita chips.

Sweet Potato Pie


  • 2c cooked mashed sweet potato
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 TB butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp almond extract (or you can use vanilla)
  • 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 9” pie shell


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir sugar, butter, eggs, and milk. Add spices, salt and extract. Then add the sweet potato and mix until smooth. Pour into the pie shell.

Cover crust with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes. Then lower the temp to 350°F for 30-35 minutes until knife edge comes out clean. 

While the pie is baking, I like to use my mixer to make some whipped cream - use heavy whipping cream and a little cinnamon, go to town at high speed until it's fluffy – I never add sugar to mine and it’s so good on top of a piece of sweet potato pie!

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