Heart-Healthy Holiday Recipes


As a doctor who cares for kids with high cholesterol, the holidays make me nervous. 

My job is to help parents navigate our tricky food environment and set healthy habits for life. How we celebrate the holidays can be a huge challenge for many families. 

The plentiful season can lead to weight gain and is a contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic. I want parents to teach their little ones that creating memories doesn’t have to center around endless trays of cookies and plates piled high with buttery mashed potatoes.

As a pediatrician it’s easy say, “avoid sweets and eat your vegetables!” but as a mother of boys I know it’s easier said than done.

 Far easier.

Which is why I’ve put together a handful of favorites that your kids will love, proof that the holidays can be festive, and good for your heart!

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Apple-Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

Keeping cholesterol in check starts with making sure the day is off to a great start. Whether your day is full of celebrations, shopping, or socializing, having a hearty, healthy breakfast can keep holiday indulging at bay. Packed with apples and a touch of brown-sugar sweetness, this breakfast has the fiber and nutrients to keep you satisfied for yours. It will help prevent hunger and over-indulgence at the next meal. 

Merry and Bright Green Beans

Don’t forget your greens! This simple, snappy veggie dish is so delicious, and always a favorite with kids! A pat of butter and lots of zesty lemon flavor make your green beans sing.

Cranberry Farro

This dish is bursting with flavor, color, and a rich and delicious whole grain. Farro is one of my favorite grains – it has a delicious nutty flavor that pairs well with bright herbs and tangy cranberries. It helps keep blood sugar stable – no sugar “crash” in 90 minutes that sends you in search of more cookies. 

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage

Cutting the squash into small pieces gives it lots of room for that beautiful, tasty caramelization. A little olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage make this side perfect! Filling up with vegetables and fiber is a great way to keep cholesterol in check.

Ginger-Lemon Tea

After dinner, one of the best ways to help digestion is with a steamy mug of citrusy ginger. Skip the hot chocolate and offer your kids this treat instead. Ginger has some great anti-inflammatory properties and such great flavor. Give it a zip of local honey and your kids will love it even more.

The Cheery Takeaway

The holidays can be a magical time. 

You want to enjoy and eat well, but you also want to teach your kids to savor this season without sabotaging their health. Relaxing, eating well, and indulging in great company doesn’t have to mean high cholesterol and weight gain. The best preventative medicine we have is the good eating habits you cultivate as a family — starting now.

Great food choices are always in reach, even amidst holiday celebrations. 

 You CAN have great holiday and a great visit with your cholesterol doctor in January 2019.

It’s a win-win. Agree? 

Julia NordgrenComment