Insider's Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: Colorful Holiday Meals. Sylvia Emberger, Giant Food Stores. Fruits And Veggies More

The holidays are a good opportunity for celebrating the beauty of fruits and vegetables. With the right choice of produce, meals and buffets can come alive with the colors of the season. Use these suggestions for making every course colorful, flavorful and best of all, more nutritious.

For a green, red and white winter theme compose a vegetable tray that includes blanched asparagus or green beans, red and green bell pepper strips, jicama sticks and radish roses. Hummus makes a perfect dip.

A broth-based soup containing red bell peppers, orange carrots, yellow corn or green peas is a warm and colorful start to the holiday meal.

For a buffet, serve a large bowl of lettuce and place the vegetables and toppings in separate bowls so your guests can choose their own combinations.

Main Course
Steam or cook vegetables in a microwave or quickly sauté to preserve nutrients. Sprinkle vegetables with herbs, toasted nuts or sesame seeds. When making mashed potatoes, moisten with nonfat yogurt or fat-free sour cream and add dill, parsley or chives. Use lettuce instead of tortillas to make wraps.

Make fruit-studded stuffing, breads and rolls by adding raisins, dried apricots, currants, cherries, or cranberries. Pumpkin, carrot and zucchini breads and muffins provide a delicious way to include more vegetables.

Fruits can serve as the centerpiece. Save the leafy pineapple top for the center of a platter and surround it with a combination of pineapple chunks, strawberries, grapes, kiwifruit, orange sections, apple slices or other fruit. Cobblers are easy to make and highlight the sparkling fruit fillings. If cheesecakes are a must, serve small portions and top with fruit.

Sparkling seltzer with a twist of lemon or lime and a few raspberries or cranberries makes a satisfying thirst-quencher.

Try this tasty recipe …

Carrot Orange Soup
Makes 6, 6 ounce servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated fresh orange zest to taste
  • Fresh parsley or mint for garnish, optional

Heat oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add onions, cover, and cook over low heat until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Add carrots and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, puree soup in batches, including some solids and liquids in each batch. Return the puree to the pot and add the orange juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper and orange zest. Simmer until heated through. Add garnish if desired. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 120 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 3 g protein.

Sylvia B. Emberger, RD, LDN
Corporate Nutritionist
Giant Food Stores, LLC

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