One defining aspect of the December holidays is food! It’s the time of year when we tend to overindulge in rich and delicious meals and treats. There’s no need to deny yourself, instead, we suggest adding in some healthy dishes made with seasonal produce. They make a welcome addition to any holiday table and offer respite from carbohydrate-rich and sugary foods. We’ve chosen elevated winter vegetable dishes that are kid-approved plus one bonus recipe for a delicate madeleine cookie you can make with fresh lemons!
Brussel sprouts are a part of many holiday tables but aren’t always popular with kids. We love this recipe because it contains crispy bacon and sweet dried cranberries, making it feel both festive and healthy!
Brussel sprouts are in season and offer lots of health benefits.
- High in fiber for healthy digestion.
- Rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants for cellular health.
- Rich in vitamin K for healthy bones.
- Rich in vitamin C for a strong immune system.
This year they’ll be a crowd favorite of all ages with this recipe for Kid-Friendly Brussel Sprouts from Super Healthy Kids.
The Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are packed with important nutrients and sometimes get a bad rap from picky adults and kids. They’ve just never had them prepared properly! When done right, dark leafy greens can make for a delicious and appreciated winter vegetable dish everyone will enjoy.
Spinach is a superfood.
- One cup has 40% of your daily magnesium intake for healthy blood sugar.
- Loaded with calcium and vitamin K for strong bone development.
- Rich in iron for proper blood function.
- Vitamins A and C make hair and skin look great.
We love this recipe for Spanakopita Triangles from Let the Baking Begin because it’s made without onion and heavy spices making it more palatable for kids. Phyllo gives this finger food an elegant look and mouthfeel while spinach provides a large dose of essential vitamins and minerals.
If your family isn’t a fan of feta, get your leafy greens through this Soul Food Collard Greens recipe from I Heart Recipes. In the southern United States, eating black-eyed peas are thought to bring prosperity for the new year. This delicious recipe is the perfect accompaniment.
Collard greens have the same healthy properties as spinach.
Healthy spaghetti squash has become a popular substitute for pasta with its nutty flavor and stringy texture. It’s not only low in calories but offers a multitude of health benefits. Plus, kids love spaghetti squash; it’s delicious and is fun to eat! Spaghetti Squash is more than just a pasta substitute. It’s densely packed with nutrients.
- Winter squash is rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene to protect our cells.
- High fiber makes for a filling dish without extra calories.
- Rich in vitamin B6, a vitamin necessary for proper metabolism and the creation of red blood cells. Vitamin B6 can only be obtained through foods or supplements.
This recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash from Domestic Superhero is kid-approved and has the addition of extra-healthy broccoli for a double-dose of nutritious, seasonal goodness!
For the Perfect Finish
We’ve included another seasonal favorite, a recipe for beautiful, light and fluffy madeleine cookies using fresh in-season lemons. They’re not just lovely and delicious cookies, but create the perfect palate-cleansing, after-dinner treat!
This recipe is still light, fluffy and yummy when the madeleines are cooled down.
Lemons are high in vitamin C for a healthy immune system and heart health.
Prep: 20 mins Chill: 3-9 hours Cook: 12 mins
Yield 16-18 full-size madeleines
1.5 stick (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted until browned
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of honey
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, optional
Melt the butter in low heat or microwave. Cool down for use.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, fine sugar, honey, lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Add the milk and whisk a little more.
Fold in the flour and baking powder mixture in three additions, stirring just until combined. Fold in the melted butter.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight.
30 minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 340 degrees (F). Generously brush the molds of your madeleine pan with butter, then lightly dust with flour.
Fill each mold cavity to 3/4.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until the "bellies" have risen and they're golden brown.
Cool madeleines in the pan placed on a cooling rack for a minute or two, then gently loosen them from the molds. If they stick, carefully run a small knife around the edge of the cakes until they release.
Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve at room temperature.