6 Holiday Indulgences Nutritionists Can’t Live Without

What are your holiday guilty pleasures? Check out what nutritionists from Food Network are craving this season, and their advice on healthy indulgence.

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Sweet Potato Casserole


Photo by: Steve Giralt

Steve Giralt

They may know a lot more about healthy eating than the rest of us, but it turns out that even those who talk nutrition for a living are still human when it comes to holiday treats. We polled six nutritionists to find out what they’re craving this holiday season — and how they plan to work those indulgences into their otherwise healthy diets.

Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., Healthy Eats contributor and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day:

“For me, it’s my mother’s sweet potato casserole topped with loads of marshmallows. I do allow myself to indulge, but I make sure to follow the ‘two-tablespoon rule’ — I take two heaping tablespoons and then enjoy it guilt-free! (And yes, I do enjoy two more tablespoons the next day if there’s any left over.)”


Food Network Kitchen's Oyster Stuffing as seen on Food Network

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Alice Gao, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Min Kwon, M.S., RDN, Healthy Eats contributor:

“My family is all about the stuffing. And while the classic stuffing has to make a mandatory appearance, I also like to prepare a healthier version. So I’ll swap out the bread for a starchy vegetable, like sweet potato or kabocha squash, or a grain, like quinoa or farro. And no matter what, I like to pack it with vegetables to add more nutritional value and ease up on the carbohydrate content.”

Chocolate Clementine

Dana Angelo White, M.S., R.D., Healthy Eats contributor and author of First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers:

“Since every day isn’t Christmas and those holiday parties seem to go on forever, I’ve come up with some better-for-you alternatives to decadent sugary treats. One of my favorites is Chocolate-Dipped Clementines, because it satisfies chocolate cravings but makes fresh fruit the star.”

pumpkin pie

Kara Lydon, R.D., LDN, author of The Foodie Dietitian Blog

“I’m strong believer that there’s a place for indulgences over the holidays, but I’m an even bigger believer that healthy food can — and should — be delicious. So I work to find creative ways to take classic holiday staples and make them healthier. For example, one of my favorite holiday desserts is pumpkin pie, but it usually contains lots of sugar and saturated fat. So I make a version that calls for maple syrup instead of white sugar and silken tofu instead of heavy cream. You won’t even know the difference!”

Cinnamon Roll


Cinnamon Pastry with Frosty in a Square Beige Dish

Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: 

“For as long as I can remember, Christmas morning has included fresh-baked cinnamon buns. I rarely eat pastries, so I indulge freely, enjoy them along with the rest of my family and then go back to my healthy eating habits for the rest of the day.”

Stuffing 2

Herb and Apple Stuffing; Ina Garten

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Mary Ryan, M.S., R.D., nutritional consultant at Beyond Broccoli

“I love good stuffing, but I make a healthier version than what was traditional in my family, mainly because I use leftovers from various yummy whole-grain breads (often with seeds in them). This makes the stuffing high in fiber and much more flavorful than the store-bought white-bread cubes. I also mix extra virgin olive oil and butter with apple cider or organic unfiltered apple juice for the liquid.”

Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.

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