Agatha Achindu’s Secrets For Planning A Healthier Holiday Menu

Hosting a fab holiday dinner? We hope these tips help!

Agatha Achindu’s Secrets To Planning A Healthier Holiday Menu
Headshot by Aim Crawford, food photo courtesy of Rinne

Although the holiday season often comes with the excitement of good food, it also can come with regrets of overindulgence. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to savor festive foods without compromising taste and our commitment to health.

Before the holidays, we spoke to Holistic Health Coach and Certified Nutritionist Agatha Achindu to learn her culinary secrets to create a holiday menu that’s both healthy and delicious. The author, who recently released BOUNTIFUL COOKING: Wholesome Everyday Meals to Nourish You and Your Family, was pleased to share her insight with our readers.

“Most traditional holiday dishes are quite indulgent. The good news is that many classic holiday foods can be tweaked without sacrificing flavor,” Achindu shares with BrownStyle Magazine exclusively before offering quick fixes to classic meals. “For example, air-fry or bake instead of deep frying; use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream; use less cheese; use whole dates instead of refined sugar; use homemade mayonnaise (egg, avocado oil, salt, lemon juice, Dijon mustard); and use real butter instead of butter substitutes that are loaded with refined oils.”

Want more tips? Pull up a seat at the table and find out Achindu’s additional advice. Plus find out what classic dish she highly suggests ditching this season.

Opt For Healthier Appetizers

Always start with the appetizers. When planning your holiday menu, Achindu suggests adding fruit to the lineup. “You can never go wrong with fresh seasonal fruits. Chop up some of your favorites and serve them completely as is,” she shares. 

She also advises you to serve your fruit platter with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of raw honey for some extra pizazz. 

Add Depth And Flavor To Your Dishes 

Achindu suggests elevating your holiday dishes with an aromatic symphony of thyme, rosemary, and sage—quintessential flavors of the season. “Introduce a touch of spice with cinnamon and nutmeg to enhance the overall flavor profile of your dish without resorting to excess fats or sugars,” she advises.   

These key ingredients are the essence of Autumn, transforming dishes into memorable creations that resonate with taste and nutrition.

Spinach and Thyme Cheese Straws
Photo courtesy of Rinne

Remix Classic Dishes With Healthy Substitutions

Achieve a harmonious balance between indulgence and health by infusing familiar dishes with nutritious twists. “Consider swapping regular potatoes for sweet potatoes— introducing a subtle sweetness,” she tells us.

In addition, Achidu says to offer a stuffing made with whole grains and an abundance of fresh herbs. “These thoughtful substitutions enhance the overall holiday season experience, allowing for guilt-free enjoyment of beloved flavors.”

Bid Farewell To This Dish

Want to keep your health and fitness goals? We all do! That’s why Achindu suggests ditching some dishes altogether.

“Consider bidding farewell to the classic green bean casserole,” Achindu recommends. “Traditionally drowned in heavy cream and crowned with fried onions, it’s an indulgence we can replace with a fresher alternative.”

Achindu recommends opting for lightly roasted or steamed green beans adorned with a sprinkle of slivered almonds as a healthy alternative. “This adjustment retains the dish’s crunch while embracing a lighter, more health-conscious profile,” she notes.

Encourage Portion Control

Achindu encourages us to practice a mindful dining experience by starting with smaller portions. “Allow guests to savor a variety of dishes without feeling overwhelmed,” she mentions. “Opt for smaller plates, creating a visual illusion of abundance without encouraging overindulgence. By combining smaller portions with intentional enjoyment, the holiday season can be a celebration of both culinary delights and mindful moments.”

Make Delicious Desserts Without Regret

Although we all deserve to indulge in holiday sweets, that doesn’t mean we have to compromise our healthy lifestyle. Achindu is an advocate for redefining classic treats with healthier options. 

“Consider making your favorite pies into crustless pie cups,” she tells us. “These individual portions offer the familiar taste of our favorite pies without the excess crust, ensuring a lighter and portion-controlled dessert.”

She also recommends using homemade fruit puree, instead of canned pie filling. 

Lastly, Achindu encourages us to have fun at the dinner table this holiday season, but always put our health first.

Heather Elitou is the Senior Managing Editor at BrownStyle Magazine, where her expertise has led to the publication's success. A devoted mother of three brilliant young women and a loving wife, she finds joy in nurturing her family. Beyond her professional and family life, Heather enjoys savoring the delights of a well-crafted cheese board. She is also known for her love of soulful conversations about living a soft life.