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COLUMN: Holiday treats can be both delicious and healthy

Local dietitian offers tips to 'tweak' recipes for a balanced diet
Berry kombucha “fauxito” mocktail

The holiday season is here and it can be hard to manage a well-balanced diet.

The good news is, contrary to popular belief, there are no foods you should feel bad about eating during the holidays — there is room for all foods in a healthy, balanced diet. Instead of being restrictive and limiting yourself, make a few tweaks to your favourite recipes to bring a healthy balance to the holiday foods and treats you love. Below are some of my favourite holiday recipe tweaks.


The tweak: Dips can help add extra flavour to some of our favourite foods while also adding additional nutrients. For example, Greek yogurt-based dips are high in protein, calcium and probiotics. The great thing about Greek yogurt is it can be used as a dip for both fruits and veggies, so it’s a win-win.

If Greek yogurt isn’t your thing, give hummus a try. This chickpea-based spread is a great way to boost the fibre and plant-based protein in your holiday snacks. You can also blend other flavours into your hummus like basil pesto or cocoa powder.

Pasta and casseroles

The tweak: Pasta and casseroles are holiday staples and the perfect place to focus on adding a few ingredients to boost the nutritional value. A simple way to tweak this recipe is by reducing the saturated fat. Opt for low-fat cheeses with two per cent milk fat or less. In terms of the noodles, go for whole grain or white pasta with fibre added. This will help to increase the fibre in your dish. You can also increase fibre and nutrients by throwing in some veggies like steamed broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, peas, mushrooms, zucchini, or carrots.

Alcoholic drinks and mocktails

The tweak: There are a few tweaks you can consider to help enjoy alcohol in moderation this holiday season.

Use freshly squeezed juices such as lime or lemon instead of flavoured syrups to reduce the sugar content of your cocktails or mocktails. Freshly squeezed juices also give you the added benefit of vitamins and fibre — if you keep the pulp. Kombucha — a probiotic drink — also makes a great tart-tasting addition to your favourite drink, while also adding a nutritious boost for your gut health.

To help enjoy alcohol in moderation this holiday season, try exercising portioning. For drinks that are originally in large cans or bottles, pour it into a small glass.

If you want to chat more about a balanced and realistic approach to the holidays, I am here to help. As your local Bradford registered dietitian at Zehrs, I provide a range of services, such as virtual or in-store one-on-one consultations, store tours, and balanced recipe ideas for the holidays. To learn more, book a 15-minute discovery call with me at

Berry kombucha “fauxito” mocktail


  • 3 each fresh blackberries and raspberries, plus additional for garnish
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tsp packed demerara sugar
    • For a healthier twist, remove the refined sugar from the recipe or add a touch of honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice (1 oz)
  • 1/4 cup PC Organics 100% Coconut Water Not From Concentrate (2 oz)
  • 1/2 cup PC Organics Raspberry Hibiscus Kombucha (4 oz)
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 sprig fresh mint, for garnish


  1. Place blackberries and raspberries in highball glass. Add five mint leaves and the sugar; muddle with muddler or handle of wooden spoon until mint is bruised and fragrant and berries are mashed.
  2. Pour in lime juice, coconut water and kombucha. Stir in ice cubes and remaining five mint leaves.
  3. Garnish with additional berries and mint sprig.

Madison Brown is a registered dietitian at Zehrs in Bradford.