RECIPES: Take Your Christmas Celebrations from “Ho Hum” to Happy and Healthy

RECIPES: Take Your Christmas Celebrations from “Ho Hum” to Happy and Healthy

This holiday season, spice up your parties, gatherings and get-togethers with a few delicious recipes from acclaimed chef, Huda Mu’min. Video Courtesy of Roland S. Martin

For many, the holiday season comes with family, friends and lots of food. As part of the Healthy for Life 20 by 20 initiative, to improve the health of Americans, Aramark and the American Heart Association tapped into their experts to assemble a list of healthy tips and tricks to help navigate the holiday season, without sacrificing the flavor or fun of celebrating.

Aramark, the largest food service provider in the United States and one of the largest employers of registered dietitians in the world, and the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, have teamed up to empower and inspire individuals and families to make better food choices every day, including the holiday season.

Whether it’s cooking for a crowd, or making smart kitchen swaps, Aramark and the American Heart Association will help you put together a winning holiday game plan.


Aramark chefs serve two billion meals a year, so they’re used to cooking for a crowd every day of the week. Whether for a cocktail party, weekend brunch or holiday dinner, these easy tips will make cooking for a crowd a lot less daunting.

  • Ask around. Before you get too far with your planning, note anyone who has a food preference, allergy, intolerance, or any other dietary needs or restrictions. While some guests may follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, plenty of people are thinking more plant-forward in general. Come up with a mix of meat, poultry, seafood, and plant-forward offerings so every guest has a selection of dishes to enjoy. It’s a good idea to have at least one meatless main dish for guests who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.
  • Plan ahead. Think about what you can take care of in the days leading up to your event. Shopping is a no-brainer. Review all your recipes and check your pantry to compile one master shopping list before you even set foot in the grocery store. Again, buying in-season produce will help you save money, as will buying in bulk, which large parties often require anyway. Once home, take stock of your cookware and serving dishes, laying them out with sticky notes so you know which food will go in which dish.
  • Welcome helping hands (big and small). If someone offers to help in the kitchen or contribute something, take them up on it! Even kids can get in on the game: Let them toss a salad, set the table, or handle washing the pots and pans. It’s one less thing for you to do as the host, and one more way to inspire their love of healthy home cooking.


There are plenty of healthy baking swaps to lighten up your favorite Holiday treats. Considering swapping out some of the items high in calories, sodium or saturated fat, for a healthier alternative.

  • One cup of unsweetened apple sauce can be swapped out for one cup of sugar
  • One cup of mashed bananas can be used to replace one cup of melted butter or oil
  • Greek yogurt can be used to swap out for different ingredients such as sour cream, butter, oil and heavy cream, but the ratios can vary
  • Instead of a fruit pie try making a fruit crisp for the holidays, it has fewer calories
  • Try replacing cream in recipes with regular or low-fat milk
  • Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes, instead of salt or butter


You can eat well and be well this holiday season, with these tasty treats, party tricks and simple strategies from the experts at the American Heart Association.

  • Include lots of seasonal, colorful fruits and vegetables. Do you decorate for the holidays with a lot of color? Treat your plate the same way. Fruits and vegetables will add flavor, color and nutrients to holiday favorites. And they help you feel fuller longer so you can avoid the temptation to overeat.
  • Navigate holiday parties like a boss. From the obligatory workplace parties to family get-togethers, your calendar may be bursting with opportunities to eat and drink outside of your regular routine. Make a plan that will help you resist plowing through the buffet table, like having a healthy snack beforehand.
  • Sprinkle in opportunities to be active. Keep the inevitable indulgences in check by staying active. Enjoy some winter sports, for a change of pace, or schedule in a quick walk or workout before you head to the next party. Remember, every little bit helps you get closer to the recommended amount of physical activity.


These tips from Aramark’s safety experts will keep safety top of mind when preparing a holiday feast.

  • Wash your hands. Hands must be washed AFTER using the restroom, coughing, sneezing and handling raw foods and garbage. Always wash your hands BEFORE starting to prepare food and in between tasks. Handwashing is critical to preparing safe food.
  • Thaw frozen food properly. It is recommended that a refrigerator is used to thaw frozen food, so plan ahead. For every 5 pounds (2kg 270g) of large frozen food, allow 24 hours of refrigerator thawing time. Place the food in a tray or container deep enough to collect any draining fluids to prevent contamination of other foods in the refrigerator.
  • Use proper cooking temperatures. Cook raw meat products to the minimum internal temperatures as stated on the product packaging. Insert a thermometer (digital is preferred) at several spots including the thickest part of the meat. Achieving the proper internal minimum cooking temperature is critical to preparing safe food.
  • Store and reheat leftovers safely. Leftovers must be cooled to below 70°F (21°C) within 2 hours, and then to 41°F (5°C) or below within 4 hours. Large items should be broken down into smaller items by either physically breaking items apart or placing the item in multiple small shallow containers. Keep refrigerated leftovers for 3 days from initial cooking or freeze for longer storage and reheat leftover food once to 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds.


It’s possible to eat healthy during the holidays without FOMO, or a lot of effort. Here are some favorite recipes from Aramark and the American Heart Association that will bring new flavors and twists on holiday favorites to your table.

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A Matrix of Majesty drawn out in ‘The Letter.’ The Bible speaks well of His splendor and no other literary masterpiece has done it better. Infiltrated with the works of His Hands. Fixated on the way He moves throughout the interface of genealogy by His own design and His own plan.

Allow the segue of expression of the Majesty of our Savior. He who opens the eyes of the blind and heals the sin sick soul despite the rebellion of behavior. HE IS, THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

We mock masks of perfection day by day while under His SAVING GRACE and have come to the end of another year. Yet, instead of giving thanks,  we’ve customized Christianity by falsifying humanity with the heralding of gift exchanges, red suits, white beards and black boots as the comrades of true cheer.

But Let’s Delve a little bit deeper into the REAL REASON why we’re here. We were created as instruments of Praise. To give God thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon our lives and to continually bless HIS Holy Name. Let us not get sidetracked by materialistic gain!

Unnecessary bloodshed, blood, sweat and tears from overtime worked, All this in attempts to show true love and care, catapulted into a twisted validation of true worth? Gifts wrapped in big black bags that zip. Lives snatched at gunpoint while souls do sift. All for the sake of gaining worthlessness at the expense of frivolous praise!

Consider the Reconciliation of the Creation to its Creator. Consider the honoring of the Father more than on Easter Day. Consider giving Him back the Glory due Him and humbling ourselves to seek Him, to Fast and to

Have you ever thought about teaching your family to sacrifice gifts to feed a family in need or those who lack? Have you ever thought about ministering to the necessities of missions, helping out and giving back?

The Word says, “When I was hungry, you fed me not.” “When I was thirsty, you gave me no drink.” Jesus tells us, “What you’ve done (or not done) to my least one, you’ve done (or not done) it unto me.”

So, let’s begin to focus on what Christ wants in this and every Season. After all, He’s the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He’s the epitome of Humility and to God’s Light, HE IS the beacon. A character of grace and wisdom that we should mark … We’re covered by His hands and safe in His Ark.

Just talking of His Wonder does something to my Soul. His Heart is Peace. His Love is Kindness and His thoughts toward us are PURE GOLD! So in this Christmas Season that we approach yet again, We commit to honor and continually praise Him for all that HE IS!

Author: ~Anita Latrice Riddle~