What are healthy holiday recipes?

Don’t worry, you won’t have to sacrifice your favorite dishes to save some calories.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Let’s face it, one of the best parts about the holidays is the food! 

This is the time of year when we often overindulge on those–not always healthy holiday staples. But, you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite dishes just to save some calories. There are some ways to make a dish healthier and give yourself a little immunity boost at the same time.

Megan Armstrong is a registered dietitian at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She shared two healthy recipes and a great substitute ingredient that will go in just about anything. 

“Sneaking in fruits and vegetables into some of your favorite holiday recipes can be a great way to just get extra vitamins and minerals, all those good healthy micronutrients to help keep you healthy.”

So let’s get sneaky, first with brussels sprouts. The secret ingredient to add in this recipe is pomegranate seeds.  

“They’re packed with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation, boost the immune system. They also have a lot of fiber in them which just helps our body regulate.”  

Plus, they definitely add a tasty pop to this recipe.

Next up, a healthy green bean casserole made without all those cans of soup. The secret ingredient to add here: fresh mushrooms. Mushrooms are a great source of selenium which plays a key role in your metabolism. 

“They also have a lot of good B vitamins. So you’re just sort of packing in several extra vitamins that you wouldn’t normally get from your green bean casserole.”

Also, if you have kids, Anderson says they are more likely to try, or accept new foods if they are part of the preparation process. Let them help you cook. 

Finally, Armstrong says if a recipe calls for sour cream, you can probably switch it out with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.  Not only does it add protein, but it’s full of probiotics.  

“Because such a large portion of our immune system lives in our gut, keeping our gut healthy with all those good pre and probiotics can just help give your immune system that extra boost it needs.”

RELATED: How to scale down your Thanksgiving dinner

Autumn Sprouts: 

1 large sweet potato, diced

In a bowl, toss the vegetables in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place them in a single layer on a sheet pan and put them in the oven. Roast for 30-35 minutes until the veggies are soft and the sprouts have begun to caramelize.

Transfer the veggies to a bowl and drizzle with the syrup, add the thyme and seeds* and adjust the seasoning if needed.

*Veggies can be made ahead and microwaved to reheat, but in this case it’s best to add the pomegranate seeds just before serving.

Better Bean Casserole

8 oz. coarsely chopped mushrooms

1 cup onions, finely diced

4 slices whole-wheat bread

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a bowl, toss the beans, salt & pepper with enough oil to just coat them, about 1 tablespoon. Transfer the beans to a sheet pan and roast for 20-25 minutes until tender, then remove from the oven and turn the oven to broil.

Meanwhile heat a skillet on medium and add about another tablespoon oil. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are soft.

Add the flour to the skillet and cook stirring until it is incorporated. Add the milk, about a third at a time mixing well with each addition until it is thickened.

Transfer the roasted beans to a baking dish and pour the milk mixture over the beans.

In a food processor, process the bread and cheese until crumbly. Spread the crumbs evenly over the bean mixture and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

*For making ahead, make through step #5 and refrigerate, then reheat in the microwave. Proceed with step #6 just before serving.

RELATED: Gathering for Thanksgiving? Experts say you might want to consider these guidelines

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