Healthy and easy holiday recipes

Autumn has so many great ingredients and in-season produce that are ideal to incorporate into your everyday diet. But even more so, it is fun to add these fresh flavors into your holiday meals. Some great in-season produce to try include apples, figs, pears, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cranberries and winter squash.

Here's some simple recipes you could add to your holiday table to add more fruits and vegetables, while also enjoying the flavors of the season.

Oven-Roasted Carrots with Curry, Oil and Fennel Seeds:

While carrots themselves might not seem like a very exciting side-dish on their own, incorporating tasty seasonings can really spice this veggie up. Try this simple recipe for your Thanksgiving meal.


  • 2 bunches fresh carrots
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix oil, curry powder and fennel seeds in a small bowl.

2. Wash and scrub the carrots and place on a sheet pan. Brush them with the oil mixture and season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake the carrots in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots have softened.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries:

This second recipe has so many great flavors of the season and it’s bursting with colors and great aroma. This is a nice option to add to your holiday table as it is vegetarian and gluten free.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Roasted Butternut Squash:

  • 1 and ½ pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes (Yields about 4 cups of uncooked cubed butternut squash)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)


Roasted Brussels sprouts:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

2. Make sure Brussels sprouts have trimmed ends and yellow leaves are removed. Then, slice all Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (to taste), and toss to combine. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and roast in the oven at 400 F for about 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even browning, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened.

Roasted butternut squash:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded),1 tablespoon of olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and toss to mix.

3. Place butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way through baking, until softened.

4. Note: You can roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on 2 separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven – that’s what I did.

1. In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, pecans, and cranberries, and mix to combine. (OPTIONAL): For more sweetness, add 2 or 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, if desired – do not add all maple syrup at once, start with 2 tablespoons, then add more, if desired, and toss with the salad ingredients to combine.

Baked Pears with Honey, Cranberries and Pecans:

This tasty dessert incorporates so many fall favorites – from the pears to the cranberries to the pecans and cinnamon. It’s decadent, while still being healthy.


  • 4 pears, such as bosc, bartlett or anjou
  • 24 fresh cranberries
  • 4 tbps chopped pecans
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, plus more, if needed
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, plus more, if needed.
  • 4 tsp raw honey
  • Greek yogurt for pairing, if desired

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Halve the pears and then core. I cored the pears with a cookie scoop but you can use a melon baller too. Slice a small part off of the backside of each pear half to create a flat surface so the pear sits flat when laid on the pan.

3. Place the pear halves on a large baking sheet or baking pan, cored side up. Place three cranberries into the cored part of each pear half. Sprinkle each pear half with about ½ tbsp of the pecans and then sprinkle each pear half with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Drizzle each pear half with ½ tsp of honey.

4. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until the pears are tender.

5. Serve with Greek yogurt, if desired.

The holidays can be a time of overindulgence, and while you don’t need to skip or avoid your favorite dishes, it's best try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meal plan or bring a dish to a holiday party you’re attending.

Sanford Dietitian Elizabeth Meyer reminded us as you’re enjoying traditional Thanksgiving dishes, keep portion control in mind, skip the heavy dishes you don’t really love and think about what produce is in-season that you can really enjoy this time of year.

About the Author...
Kristi Larson

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