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Heartmail's Holiday Meal Makeovers

holiday dinner table

"Well, it's just for the holiday!" is a common refrain from those who enjoy sweets or extra helpings during this time of year. The trouble is that you don't need to devour desserts or refill your plate to do damage to your diet. Classic holiday meals are often loaded with saturated fats, which are linked to an increase in cholesterol levels and heart disease. Foods like turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy can also carry high amounts of sodium, which can affect blood pressure, while sugary versions of sweet potato casseroles, alcoholic beverages and desserts can increase triglycerides, a fat in the bloodstream that ups the risk of heart disease.

But no one wants to sacrifice tasty meals at holiday gatherings. The good news is you don't have to. A holiday meal makeover can provide healthy dishes that are so tasty - folks may not even know they're eating healthier! Consider switching those traditional (and traditionally unhealthy!) recipes with our heart-healthy recipes, which have less fat, sodium and sugar, but just as much delicious flavor.


And for those times when family favorites beckon - eating dessert or a few appetizers at a holiday gathering doesn't have to be a diet buster. Keep your hand from becoming an ever-present fixture in the cookie jar by sending leftovers home with guests or sharing with co-workers. Portion control is important, too, both on your plate and in the kitchen. Aim for quantities that you'll serve in the first sitting to avoid those tempting leftovers.

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped (if canned, rinse thoroughly)
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tsp olive oil
Whole wheat baguette, cut into 8 1/2-inch thick slices
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients except for the bread. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toast bread under broiler and top with mixture.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 125, Total Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 150mg, Total Carbohydrates: 20g, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 4g

Pineapple Zucchini Salsa

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 cups zucchini, diced
2 cups fresh or canned pineapple, drained and diced
1 cup white beans (drained if canned)
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add pepper to taste. Serve with vegetables or tortilla chips.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 140, Total Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 10mg, Total Carbohydrates: 28g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 9g

Holiday Turkey Breast

Servings vary

Ingredients

1 large turkey breast, without skin or bone
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 325º F. In a bowl, mix the ingredients together and spread evenly on both sides of the breast. Place turkey breast in a roasting pan. Roast turkey breast for 1.5 to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 165º F when inserted in multiple areas. Allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Nutrition facts based on a 3 oz. portion. Portions vary with size of breast: Total Calories per 3 oz. serving: 135, Total Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 50mg, Total Carbohydrates: 0g, Dietary Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 0g, Protein: 30g

Cran-apple Chutney

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 cups whole cranberries
1 medium apple (without skin, chopped)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Orange zest (1 orange, zested)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes until the mixture is tender and thick. Cool and serve.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 90, Total Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 0mg, Total Carbohydrates: 24g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 21g, Protein: 0g

Glazed Carrots

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 lbs carrots, julienned
1/4 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
Pepper to taste

Directions

Whisk together orange juice, olive oil and honey. Add this mixture to carrots in a microwave safe dish. Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes until softened but still crisp. Add pepper to taste. Stir together and serve.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 130, Total Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 0.8g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 100mg, Total Carbohydrate: 19g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 11g, Protein: 1.6g

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6

Ingredients

1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º F. Trim ends off of Brussels sprouts and place into bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss together to coat Brussels sprouts. Place on baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-45 minutes, shaking the pan a few times throughout for even roasting. Brussels sprouts will appear dark brown when done, but watch to avoid burning.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 117, Total Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 0.9g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 30mg, Total Carbohydrates: 12g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 4g

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450º F. Wash and peel potatoes; cut into small cubes. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Arrange mixture on a baking sheet, and bake for about 45 minutes, until potatoes become tender.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 200, Total Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 1.5g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 50mg, Total Carbohydrates: 20g, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 3g

Pumpkin Cake

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1 cup low fat buttermilk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 medium apple (without skin, sliced very thin)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F and spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. In a separate bowl, beat the egg; add buttermilk and pumpkin. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir until blended. Spoon the mixture into the pan and add thin slices of apple in an even layer on top. Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition facts: Total Calories per serving: 165, Total Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Sodium: 115mg, Total Carbohydrates: 34g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 9g, Protein: 6g

Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted December 2011

Contact Information

CardioVascular Institute at
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
888-99-MYCVI
617-632-9777