Most of us don’t get the recommended amount of fruits and veggies we’re supposed to—maybe even less so around the holidays. Adding in more veggies at gatherings can help everyone stay healthy through the holidays. These veggie based holiday dishes will please even your carnivore loving, picky guests!
Gathering family around for a holiday celebration for me includes satisfying:
- Two fairly health conscious mostly vegetarians
- Two guys who love meat and only eat a few vegetables (corn and potatoes mostly)
- One picky kid who eats like a bird
- Luckily the rest of the people fall along somewhere in the spectrum of eating most foods
Your puzzle of everyone’s food preferences, allergies or dietary health restrictions for a holiday meal may be more complicated. Pleasing everyone while still offering a healthy meal can be a challenge, especially around the holidays. Maybe you, like me, have some difficulty coming up with vegetable dishes everyone (especially the carnivores) at the table will eat.
Holiday parties tend to be light on vegetable dishes, so adding a variety of vegetable dishes that appeal to everyone can help boost fruit/veg intake even during the holidays.
The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are numerous. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lowered risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers (1). However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only about one in ten Americans reaches the daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake (2).
Making half your plate at meals with fruits and vegetables is one practical way to reach the recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake. Holiday parties tend to be light on vegetable dishes, so adding a variety of vegetable dishes that appeal to everyone can help boost fruit/veg intake even during the holidays.
These veggie based dishes can be crowd pleasers for veggie and meat lovers alike.
Cauliflower has stepped into the nutritional limelight: it is gluten-free, low in carbs, high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Maybe you have seen cauliflower rice, pizza crusts and other products lately in stores.
Cauliflower dishes can be a winner at parties because it has a fairly mild taste as far as vegetables go. It can be doctored up or simply roasted for a delicious dish.
- Garlic, parmesan, roasted cauliflower recipe from Primavera Kitchen simply combines roasted cauliflower, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, paprika, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Bonus: it is egg free and low carb if you need any veg dishes that also check these restrictions!
- Roasted cauliflower salad recipe from Woman’s Day is a tasty way to get people to eat salad that normally might not. This recipe combines a simple olive oil dressing, roasted cauliflower, greens, sliced almonds, raisins and dried cranberries. The combination of roasted veggies with crunchy almonds, sweet raisins and dried cranberries is a winning combination.
Sweet potato dishes
Forget the sweet, sweet potato dishes that have brown sugar and marshmallows. In my humble opinion, there are tastier ways to enjoy eating sweet potatoes! Offering savory sweet potato dishes may pique the interest of hesitant people at the table or at the buffet.
- Rosemary pecan mashed sweet potatoes recipe from Good Housekeeping has just a hint of sweetness from a little maple syrup, but it also has parmesan cheese, rosemary and pecans to balance out the sweetness. It could stand alone as a side dish or pair nicely with a meat main dish.
- Pan roasted sweet potatoes with dried cherries and pecans recipe from Eating Well has subtle hints of unique flavors with ingredients of dried cherries, bacon (can be optional), turmeric, pecans and tamari sauce. Although, not everyone needs to know exactly what’s in this dish to enjoy the flavors!
I have yet to meet a meat lover who doesn’t also love mushrooms. The earthy, umami flavor these fungi have generally appeals to most people—even heavy meat eaters. More reasons to add a mushroom dish to your holiday menu: they are a good source of mineral selenium and vitamin D.
- Sautéed mushrooms can be a simple, pleasing way to serve mushrooms. A Spicy Perspective has this sautéed mushroom recipe that adds garlic, fresh thyme and dry sherry when cooking.
- Ricotta, kale and mushroom toast from Bon Appétit can simply and deliciously elevate the bread/roll option on the table for your holiday party.
Soup and Salad dishes
Eating a salad or veggie based soup option before the meal is another easy, delicious way to get your veggies in. Adding fresh or dried fruit to a salad, like the Pear salad with dried cherries and candied walnuts from Minimalist Baker will be sure to please most everyone.
A broth/tomato based soup is a healthy, light option for holiday meals. Skip the cream or cheese based soups (sorry broccoli cheese soup fans!) and go for something like this Tomato and vegetable white bean soup that packs a lot of veggies and flavor into just one pot.
This is just the start for tasty vegetable based dishes you can serve up at holidays. Do you have other veggie based dishes your family loves? We’d love to hear what works for your family!