A Delicious Holiday Dinner Menu & How to Turn Leftovers into an Easy Next-Day Brunch

By: Cailtyn Diimig  |  Diabetic Living Magazine, Winter 2018

In this healthy holiday meal plan, we set you up with an impressive dinner menu plus a next-day brunch menu to keep the good times rolling.

Staying healthy during the holidays while still enjoying classic, delicious dishes is more possible than you may think. In this healthy holiday meal plan, we set you up with an impressive dinner menu plus a next-day brunch menu to keep the good times rolling. Dinner comes in under 800 calories (including dessert) and brunch clocks in right under 600 calories, which is pretty impressive given that the average American holiday meal adds up to be over 3,000 calories per serving—yikes! Scroll through to see the delicious recipes in the line-up and don't miss the helpful tips at the bottom to see how you can can save time and money prepping for brunch as you make dinner.

Healthy Holiday Dinner Menu

healthy holiday dinner menu

In this festive holiday dinner menu, juicy herbed roasted turkey is accompanied by seasonal side dishes and dessert to create a healthier-for-you feast that everyone will enjoy. This veg-heavy dinner packs in nutrients from healthy whole foods, and relies on savvy cooking techniques to amp up the flavor without going overboard on calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Roasting caramelizes the sugars in vegetables, bringing out their natural sweetness, while fresh and dried herbs and spices add tons of flavor, so you can go light on the salt. Finish the meal with a lightened-up version of a classic pumpkin dessert served in individual ramekins, making portion control easy.

On the Menu

Traditional Herbed Roast Turkey

A medley of fresh herbs coat both the inside cavity and outer skin of the turkey for delicious flavor. Cooked alongside chopped onion, carrot and celery, be sure to save the drippings to make gravy or stock.

Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Dressing

Roasted sweet potatoes and fresh pomegranate seeds bring a light sweetness to this savory whole-grain side dish. Tossed with olive oil and a generous mix of garlic, parsley and rosemary, this impressive side packs in a ton of flavor.

Maple-Thyme Roasted Baby Carrots

Not much is needed to make these carrots shine. Here they get drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with garlic and thyme to create an elegant yet simple side dish. Look for multi-colored carrots to give this dish a beautiful pop of color.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cider Vinegar

The rich flavor of bacon combines with a honey, cider vinegar and mustard pan sauce to coat the Brussels sprouts in this mouthwatering veggie side. 

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

Get your pumpkin-flavor fix with this healthier take on crème brulée. Served in individual ramekins for easy portion control, this lightened-up pumpkin dessert is the perfect way to end the meal.

 

Festive Holiday Brunch Menu

festive holiday brunch menu

For this day-after brunch, leftover roasted sweet potatoes and carrots get repurposed in the Sweet Potato, Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Casserole and Arugula Salad with Carrots and Goat Cheese recipes, and you'll use up remaining ingredients, like the canned pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. Using the same ingredients from your holiday dinner cuts down on the time it takes to get everything on the table. Better yet, put in a little extra prep work so you have even less to do the morning of. Bake the Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Loaf Bread the day before; make the vinaigrette for the Arugula Salad with Carrots and Goat Cheese, so all that's left to do is combine ingredients; and prep the Sweet Potato, Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Casserole, so it's ready to pop in the oven the morning of. See the "Tips to Save You Time & Money" below for exactly what to do to make the most of your ingredients.

On the Menu

Holiday Champagne Cocktails

Quick and easy to assemble, these festive holiday cocktails are the perfect addition to any holiday gathering. Dish out a variety of garnishes, like lemon or lime wedges, fresh cranberries and rosemary springs, so guests can make this cocktail their own.

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Casserole

This loaded breakfast casserole is the perfect make-ahead dish to prepare for a crowd. Savory sausage, eggs and plenty of veggies bake together to create a hearty and healthy breakfast everyone will love. Top with creamy goat cheese and freshly sliced scallions to serve.

Arugula Salad with Carrots and Goat Cheese

The same Maple-Thyme Roasted Baby Carrots used in the holiday dinner menu do double time and act as a flavorful addition to this delicious brunch salad. Ready in a quick 20 minutes, you can shave off even more prep time the day of by making the dressing in advance.

Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Loaf Bread

A special addition to the standard brunch menu, this chocolate and pumpkin loaf is a delicious way to cap off the holiday.    

 

Tips to Save You Time & Money

• Buy one (15-oz.) can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) and use it to make both the Pumpkin Crème Brulée and Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Loaf Bread. Any leftovers can be used in smoothies.

• Roast 5 pounds of carrots. You'll serve most of them at dinner in the Maple-Thyme Roasted Baby Carrots recipe. Save 8 ounces to cut into bite-size pieces for the Arugula Salad with Carrots and Goat Cheese at brunch.

• Save time and buy the pomegranate seeds (also called arils) prepackaged to use in the Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Dressing and Arugula Salad with Carrots and Goat Cheese recipes.

• Keep your grocery list short and use just one cheese for all your recipes. We topped the Arugula Salad with Carrots and Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato, Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Casserole with goat cheese, but feta also works well.

• Save 25 minutes by baking all the sweet potatoes at once. You'll use these in the Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Dressing and Sweet Potato, Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Casserole recipes.

 

Watch: How to Cook Turkey for Thanksgiving

Healthy Holiday & Occasion Dinner Recipes
Low-Calorie Holiday Brunch Recipes
Healthy Holiday Eating for Diabetes
Smart-Eating Strategies for Healthy Holiday Parties