Nutrition tips for enjoying a healthier, balanced holiday season

Tweaks for healthier eating

The holiday season is here and with it comes parties, traditions and lots of yummy foods.

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, well-balanced diet.

Rather than having a restrictive approach, a few small additions to your favourite recipes can bring a healthy balance to the holiday treats you love. Here are some of my favourite holiday recipe tweaks.


The tweak: Bread and butter are often served alongside holiday dishes or used as appetizers on the infamous charcuterie board. If you’d like to make bread part of your meal, opt for whole grain bread instead of white bread.

As for those charcuterie boards, add vegetables, nuts and fruits like apricots, berries and dates to up the nutrition on your board. These will pair well with your favourite cheese and meat and the added colours look stunning, too.

Meat entrees

The tweak: Don’t be afraid to switch things up and opt for plant-based main dishes. While meat and poultry are great sources of protein, you can also obtain great nutrition from plant-based foods.

If you’re not used to a plant-based diet, try incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet during the holidays like a sweet potato lasagna or lentil shepherd’s pie.

A plant-based diet offers all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for optimal health.

Mashed potatoes

The tweak: If you normally add sour cream or butter to your mashed potatoes, try adding 0% Greek yogurt for a nutritious twist on this classic holiday side. The Greek yogurt is a great stand-in that’s lower in fat and higher in protein.

Potato peels are also a great source of fibre, so save time on peeling and leave them on.

If you are feeling adventurous, swap half the potatoes for some cauliflower, which is high in vitamin C and a good source of folate.

If you want to chat more about a balanced and realistic approach to the holidays, I am here to help. As a Kelowna registered dietitian at Your Independent Grocer, I provide a range of services, such as virtual 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 dietitianservices.ca.

Joy Zhang is a registered dietitian at in Kelowna.

Grilled Focaccia with Creamy Burrata Cheese and Basil


• 1 ACE rosemary focaccia bread (390 g), cut in 12 slices (each about 3/4 -inch/2 cm thick)

• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

• 8 green onions

• 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

• 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

• 3/4 tsp salt

• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

• 2/3 cup PC Black Label Basil Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

• 2 large balls fresh burrata cheese (each about 290 g), drained and torn in pieces

• 2 tbsp PC Black Label Basil Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

• 12 PC Black Label Caper Berries in Brine


1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high heat. Brush one side of focaccia with 3 tbsp (45 mL) of the olive oil. Brush onions with remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil. Place bread, oiled side down, on grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning once, or until browned on both sides with light grill marks; transfer to serving platter. Place onions on grill, perpendicular to grates. Cook for about 3 minutes, turning once, or until wilted and very soft; transfer to cutting board.

2. Once onions are cool enough to handle, chop finely; transfer to small bowl. Add parsley, basil, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) of the salt and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) of the pepper. Stir in 2/3 cup (150 mL) basil oil until combined; spoon over grilled focaccia. Arrange burrata pieces over top of herb mixture. Drizzle 2 tbsp (25 mL) basil oil evenly over top. Sprinkle with caper berries and remaining 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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