Dietitians’ Holiday Favourites From (and for) the Heart

Dietitians love food. We love to break bread with loved ones, especially at the holidays. And while we might savour some shortbread or egg nog, our not-so-secret superpower is making vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and even legumes truly shine. Even after a cardiac event, even if you have type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, you deserve to enjoy food too, now and all year long.

So I asked some of Canada’s top culinary dieititans to share their heart-healthy holiday favourites and compiled them here along with a few of my own. If you want to make a beautiful, nourishing crowd-pleaser for a holiday gathering, we’ve got you covered.

Colourful Appetizers

Refreshing Pomegranate Salsa

I first tasted this at one of dietitian Kristyn Hall’s cooking classes and I’ve made it for holiday parties several times since. People love it.

Image credit: Kristyn Hall

As Kristyn says: “This Pomegranate Salsa is bright, colourful, crunchy, festive and tantalizing to the tastebuds! And, it is loaded with antioxidants! Serve as a salsa or as a condiment with chicken or fish.”

Recipe here.

Created by Kristyn Hall MSc, RD
Dietitian and Certified Health and Wellness Coach(r)

Chief Energizing Officer, Energize Nutrition

Strawberry Basil Bites

One more from Kristyn, because I love the bright colours and simplicity of this appetizer too.

Image credit: Kristyn Hall

Again, from Kristyn: “When entertaining, having something that is simple to prepare and serve is ideal. These appetizers minimize the use of plates and cutlery, which makes them perfect for a cocktail party or an appetizer.” Also, she notes, “Sometimes basil can be difficult to find fresh – in which case, try substituting in mint leaves.”

Recipe here.

Created by Kristyn Hall MSc, RD
Dietitian and Certified Health and Wellness Coach(r)

Chief Energizing Officer, Energize Nutrition

Never Boring Salads

Roasted Carrot and Chickpea Salad

If you aren’t yet following Shannon Crocker on social media, you’re missing out. Shannon develops tantalizing recipes and shares them via her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Image credit: Shannon Crocker

As Shannon says, “It’s like a party in your mouth.” And isn’t it gorgeous? Plus, I appreciate the quick nutrition lesson addressing this popular misconception: “If you’ve ever turned down a carrot because you’ve heard that they are too high in sugar, listen up: that’s bananas!”

Recipe here.

Created by Shannon Crocker RD
Dietitian and Nutrition Communications Consultant
Vibrant Nutrition Communications

Mango Curry Chicken, Prunes & Millet Warm Salad

Vancouver dietitian Cristel Moubarak brings an effervescent, warm, loving spirit to her work teaching cooking and helping people have a healthier and more peaceful relationship with their food and body.

Says Cristel: “This recipe is inspired by Moroccan flavours, and it can be served warm, or cold – as a salad, or grain bowl.”

Recipe here.

Created by Cristel Moubarak RD
Dietitian and Founder, nutriFoodie

Wheat Berry-Cranberry Salad

When Mr. Sweet Spot eats something he really likes, he’ll declare, “Top Ten!” It’s kind of a running joke, because I’m up to 91 “Top Ten” recipes in my collection. This recipe is special because he calls it a “Top One”. There are only a few of those.

If you’ve never tried wheat berries, they’re a treat. Move over quinoa. This whole grain can be grown in Canada and is packed with nutrition. Trouble is, they’re usually only found at natural foods stores and they take about an hour to cook. But with a little planning ahead, or the help of a pressure cooker, you can make this unique holiday dish. Or try it with wild rice, brown rice, barley, or farro.

Recipe here.

Created by Jackie Mills, MS, RD
Food and Nutrition Writer, Cookbook Author
Originally shared in Today’s Dietitian Magazine

Satisfying Sides

Whipped Sweet Potatoes With Pecan Crumble Topping

This is another favourite in our kitchen. It’s a bit time-consuming, so good if you’re attending, but not cooking, the main meal. Or make it the day before.

You whip roasted sweet potatoes with plain Greek yogurt, for a little bonus calcium, protein, and creaminess, and the topping is reminiscent of fruit crisp, with pecans and oats. (Whole grain alert!)

Recipe here.

Created by Mary Kimbrough, RD, LD
Dietitian and Senior Director of Operations and Culinary Innovation at Wild Hive
Originally shared in Today’s Dietitian Magazine

Berry Christmas Wreath

This fun, festive, light fruit creation is a great start to a day likely to be full of rich food.

Image credit:

The recipe suggests using yogurt cheese, which is creamy and delicious if you have time. If not, peanut butter or cream cheese work too. And you can use frozen cherries, except they’re a bit messy!

Recipe here.

Source:, a Dietitians of Canada website where you’ll find
recipes as well as information on nutrition, food and healthy eating.

Christmas Granola

I make this sweet treat every year for teachers, neighbours, and coworkers.

I like giving something a little out of the ordinary, and the whole grain oats, oat bran, and walnuts are a bonus. Plus I just love the nutmeg and cinnamon baking in the kitchen when it’s frosty and blustery outside.

Recipe here.

Created by Josée di Stasio
Cookbook author and television personality
(Adapted by me.)

Are you going to try any of these or perhaps other holiday dishes in the delicious/heart-healthy/right for you “sweet spot”? I’d love to see them!

Share a picture in the comments for this post on Facebook, tag me in a post on Instagram, or just send me an email.

May the hugs and kindness in your holidays exceed the stress. (Note to self:) Breathe, delete a few things from your to-do list, connect with your favourite people, cook some good food, and enjoy!

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