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Stay Lean and Thin With These 12 Healthy Holiday Recipes

If you want to stay lean this holiday season, then you are going to want to check out these recipes...

The holidays are often the time when people permit themselves to throw their diet out the window. However, it’s not exactly necessary to stuff your face full of junk food in order to enjoy a good meal.

There are, in fact, healthy holiday recipes that are just as delightful to the taste buds and won’t give you a bigger waistline the next morning.

1. Moroccan-Spiced Turkey w/ Orange Pan Jus

Photo: Chris Court; Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart Photo: Chris Court; Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Even if you give your diet a little more leeway this holiday, you should still put in the effort to get your daily protein fix. Forget about the bland whey protein shakes or bland tuna out of a can.

Try this juicy turkey made all the more succulent with orange pan jus rub that gives the meat a Middle Eastern flavor.


  • 1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 5/8 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

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2. Polenta Wedges w/ Tomato Tapenade

Photo: Eating Well Photo: Eating Well

Here is a tasty finger food that makes for a satisfying appetizer without excess calories. Polenta is boiled cornmeal with origins in France, Italy, and Switzerland. The addition of sundried tomatoes gives the polenta a tangy but delicate aftertaste.


  • 1 16- to 18-ounce tube prepared polenta, ends trimmed and cut into 12 slices
  • Canola or olive oil cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup soft sun-dried tomatoes (see Tip)
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons rinsed capers
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper

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3. Multigrain Bagel Chips w/ Smoked Salmon Mousse

Photo: Fitness Magazine Photo: Fitness Magazine

Here’s another appetizer that provides a solid protein source as well as slow-burning carbs and ample fiber. It’s also ridiculously easy to make as there isn’t a whole lot that needs to be made from scratch. This can even be made into a meal itself by using a whole bagel; this makes for an excellent breakfast option.


  • 2 multigrain bagels
  • 2 tablespoons light cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 1 ounce smoked salmon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives

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 4. Crock Pot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili

Photo: Kitchen Treaty Photo: Kitchen Treaty

This hot bowl of chili is ideal for warming your tummy and keeping it satiated and satisfied. This dish is also a nutritional powerhouse. Lentils are a rich source of fiber, potassium, manganese, and folate. It’s also a decent source of zinc, which is important for optimal testosterone production.

This is actually a vegetarian recipe, but feel free to add lean beef or cuts of chicken breasts for a delicious and high-protein cuisine.


  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (taste pepper for heat and add another pepper if you like. If you prefer a milder chili, scrape out the seeds before mincing)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Diced onions
  • Diced tomatoes

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5. Chocolate Fruit Kabobs

Photo: Food Heaven Made Easy Photo: Food Heaven Made Easy

Kabobs are always easy to prepare. Just stick the fruits onto a stick and voila! To give it a twist, add homemade chocolate syrup from unsweetened, raw coco. Avoid the temptation of opting for store-bought chocolate syrup, which is practically high-fructose corn syrup with artificial chocolate flavoring.

The fruits, strawberries and kiwis in this case, are chock full of vitamin C and antioxidants. The raw chocolate is also rich in the antioxidant flavonoid. For a protein boost, you can sprinkle your favorite whey powder onto the kabob.


  • 15 strawberries
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 dark chocolate bar OR 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts
  • 5 chop sticks or kabob sticks

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 6. Slow Cooker BBQ Turkey w/ Corn Salad

Photo: Good House Keeping Photo: Good House Keeping

Here is another protein-packed meal that’s low on the carbs. Turkey can be a bit dry and bland; this recipe seeks to correct that by infusing the meat with a blend of spicy-sweetness using a mix of vinegar and pepper. The serving of side vegetables provide a low carb alternative to the more traditional rice or mash potatoes.


  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 3 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp. cayenne (ground red) pepper
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 4 bone-in turkey thighs
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • ½ c. cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • ½ c. ketchup
  • 1 package frozen lima beans
  • 2 c. fresh corn kernels
  • 2 stalk celery
  • 4 medium carrots

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7. Avocado Yogurt Dip

Photo: Eating Well Photo: Eating Well

Every veggie tray needs a good dip. Instead of the typical ranch or blue cheese dressing, which is full of unhealthy fats, try this avocado yogurt dip.

You can probably guess what the two primary ingredients are. Yogurt is high in protein and probiotics for healthy digestion. Avocados are one of the best known sources of monounsaturated fats.


  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

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 8. Cinnamon Roll Protein Shake

Photo: Pop Sugar Photo: Pop Sugar

This is the holidays for Pete’s sake! You can ditch the whey protein for a change and enjoy real food. Then again, on the other hand, a protein shake fits in quite nicely as a healthy holiday treat with a little shakeup.

Give the flavor a buzz by adding ground cinnamon, a bit of pudding for thickness and texture, and an optional candy cane for a minty flavor.


  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar-free instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon imitation vanilla (or 1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract)
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • a few dashes butter flavor sprinkles or butter-flavor extract
  • 8 fluid ounces (one cup) of water or low-fat milk
  • 3 to 5 ice cubes or a half cup to a cup of crushed ice

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9. Raw Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad

Photo: Whole Foods Market Photo: Whole Foods Market

This is a nice side dish that makes an excellent main course companion. Sweet potatoes are as good as carrots when it comes to vitamin A, not to mention it’s also high in potassium. The cranberries are a terrific source of antioxidants known for counteracting the effects of cholesterol plaque.


  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (sweetened with juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
  • 1 medium (3/4-pound) sweet potato, peeled
  • 4 cups baby arugula or small watercress sprigs
  • 3 inner celery stalks, thinly sliced, leaves reserved

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10. Bison Steaks w/ Fig-Balsamic Sauce

Photo: Food and Wine Photo: Food and Wine

If you have guests that are true meat eaters, then they will appreciate tender slices of bison steak. This is prepared in a pan instead of grilling to retain the natural meat juices.

Bison meat is actually a rich source of iron and is also leaner than beef. However, feel free to opt for beef tenderloin if bison meat isn’t available in your area.


  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons fig balsamic or plain balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons beef or veal demiglace (see Note)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Four 5-ounce bison tenderloin steaks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, lightly smashed

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 11. Stove-Top Clambake

Photo: Bryan Gardner Photo: Bryan Gardner

Here’s a welcoming recipe for seafood lovers. This is a mishmash of shrimp, mussels, and clams topped with beer-infused potatoes and corn on the cob. Feel free to add a few lemon wedges or squeeze the juice onto the dish for a sour and tangy flavor.


  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 large shallots, quartered, root ends left intact
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 ears corn, shucked and halved
  • 60 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 pound shell-on extra-jumbo shrimp (16 to 20)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

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12. Eggnog Popsicles

Photo: PapernStitch Blog Photo: PapernStitch Blog

Eggnog is a tasty alternative to milk that is just as high in protein. Opt for a variety that does have so much sugar, or mix it with skim milk. This is a frozen treat that adults and children alike will enjoy despite the cold weather. For a more homemade taste, elect to make your own eggnog.


1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large pasteurized egg yolk (see Note)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup light rum
Special equipment: Wooden ice pop sticks

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 Enjoy the Holidays Without Packing the Pounds

The holiday is typically a time to lay off the diet. Even so, you don’t want to overdo it. These holiday recipes provides the best of both worlds: the nutrients fit for an athlete and the scrumptious taste that awakens the taste buds.

If you want to get a custom meal plan prepared by me, then click here. This custom plan is designed to get you eating in a way to achieve your fitness goals!.