Prioritize Plants For Healthy Holiday Cooking

Editor’s note: “Prioritize Plants For Healthy Holiday Cooking” article is published here from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s The Nutrition Source newsletter.

When it comes to holiday meals, meat is usually the star of the show – with starches playing a supporting role. This year, consider turning tradition around and prioritize plants. You’ll wow guests with the variety of colors and flavors, all while serving them nutritious, vegetable-filled fare with minimal meat – better for both you and the environment.

Not sure how to host without a roast? We’ve created five nourishing dishes that add up to one healthy holiday meal bursting with delicious flavor. You can cook all of the recipes, or pick just a few. These recipes can also be made in advance, helping to make your holidays less hectic.

Start a new tradition this holiday season by minimizing meat and prioritizing plants. By putting veggies front and center, and using meat as a condiment, everyone – including the environment – benefits.

Shepherds_Pie_4_editedVegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
This dish makes a beautiful centerpiece, with its top layer of bright, orange sweet potatoes. The filling of chickpeas and vegetables gives the pie a nice “bite,” making this recipe a top contender for any holiday gathering.

Salad_Bowl_2_editedThree-Green & Wheat Berry Salad with Mushroom Bacon
Skip processed meats and try our mushroom “bacon,” used here in combination with three different types of greens and wheat berries. This tasty salad is sure to go fast, so you may even want to double the recipe!

Stuffing_4_editedOlive Oil Dressing with Chicken & Walnuts
We show how to use meat as a condiment in this recipe, which also includes olive oil – no butter – and whole wheat bread. Walnuts, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, give the dish a subtle, nutty flavor and delightful texture.

Soup_Garnish_editedButternut Squash Soup
Using a vegetable stock as the base, this hearty golden soup is flavor-filled with leeks, parsley, and thyme, topped with a balsamic glaze and roasted pumpkin seeds. It’s surprisingly light yet satiating at the same time.

Pickled_Beets_1_editedQuick-Pickled Beets & Fennel
Add a burst of color to your tabletop with bright beets and crisp fennel. An easy recipe that you can prepare in advance, this recipe shows another way to prepare veggies – no oven required!

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