‘Tis the season for giving thanks and family gatherings, relaxing in front of the fireplace and sipping hot cocoa … and, of course, looking forward to (and even craving) our favorite holiday dishes.

Speaking strictly with gastronomy in mind, part of what is special around the holiday season is the food, am I right? It’s a time when certain dishes or foods are celebrated and enjoyed, some perhaps with cultural significance.

And by the way, food cravings are not necessarily a bad thing. Mindfully enjoying our favorite dishes instead of depriving ourselves of them, generally leads people toward moderation and away from emotional eating. For other strategies to promote balance and to help us enjoy the fun and flavors of the holiday season without derailing our healthy eating momentum, look no farther than your produce section!

When we focus on including gorgeous and delectable fruits and vegetables in our appetizers and on our holiday plates, we just naturally end up eating less of those higher calorie-lower nutrient foods.

Fall for Fall Fruits this Holiday Season

Boost the fiber and nutrition of holiday favorites by adding Fall fruit to dishes such as salads, bread, side dishes or appetizers including pears, pomegranate, persimmon, cranberries, guava, kiwi, kumquat, oranges, and tangerines!

Pears are a perfect example of a fall fruit to feature in your holiday menus. The 10 types of pears that the U.S. harvests each year will fill your fruit basket all winter long. Enjoying pears every chance you get definitely helps promote health during the holidays with each medium pear providing more than 20% of the daily recommended amount of fiber (6 grams) and 10% of the daily value for the antioxidant, Vitamin C. Not to mention the other important plant compounds in pears including flavonoids, which may have strong antioxidant and possible anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activity in the body.

Expand your holiday horizons and think about enjoying fall fruit in new, inventive ways! Pair your pears, for example, with gruyere or goat cheese for an elegant appetizer or simply slide them into your holiday salads. And try this recipe for Pear Pistachio Crunch, the epitome of a healthful sweet ending to a meal or holiday party.

Fill Up Fruit Tips:

  • Add mini fruit kabobs to your party or holiday spread
  • “Mini”-mize your dessert serving size and top each serving with fresh fruit that enhances the flavors of the dessert
  • Colorize your holiday cheese plate or charcuterie board with fresh and dried fruit
  • Boost the nutrients, flavors, and colors of your holiday green salads with fresh, dried, canned or frozen fruit
  • Most favorite holiday breakfasts are even better garnished with fresh, dried, canned or frozen fruit

Fill up on the Beautiful Bounty of In-season Veggies

Rely on Fall veggies to balance any holiday plate! Foods high in water and fiber, like vegetables, help fill us up and bring copious vitamins and minerals plus plant compounds to the table. From bright orange to dark green, look for opportunities to feature pumpkin, sweet potatoes and yams, winter squash, winter greens, Brussels Sprouts, carrots and cauliflower, turnips and green beans.

For a recipe for a Brussels Sprouts dish suitable for the holiday table try this recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Shallots. For an addicting appetizer recipe featuring kale, try these Kale Crostini. Vegetables can even be added to breads and breakfasts! For example, for a festive color and flavor, mashed sweet potato can be added to Dinner Rolls and pumpkin to pancakes and waffles!

Fill Up Veggie Tips:

  • Double your vegetable dishes at the holiday table for more veggie excitement and options.
  • Stuff your holiday stuffing with stuffing-friendly veggies like carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms and more! And the same goes for your holiday casseroles.
  • Pump up any holiday pasta dish, even mac & cheese, with a myriad of Mediterranean veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, spinach and other greens, winter squash and more.
  • Many potato dishes can be embellished with riced cauliflower or cauliflower florets and broccoli and other winter veggies.
  • Feature a medley of winter vegetables alongside any holiday beef or pork roast.
  • Add veggies like greens and things (mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, etc.) to your holiday egg dishes.

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