Ho-Ho Healthy Holiday Recipes

My friend and fellow Ontario-born dietitian Danielle Rancourt ( who is way more creative in the kitchen than I am) was kind enough to share five of her awesome holiday recipes.

I hope they come handy this weekend and beyond!

Ho Ho Healthy Recipes

Dietitian-Approved Dips, Dishes & Desserts

By Danielle Rancourt MS RD

Holiday Guacamole (makes 2.5 cups)

2-3 ripe avocados, mashed

1 cup pomegranate seeds

¼ cup pumpkin seeds, roasted salted

¼ cup red onion, diced (optional)

2-3 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

1 lime, freshly squeezed

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mash avocados in a medium bowl (just prior to serving)

  2. Fold in pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, onion, cilantro and lime juice.

  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Serve with desired tortilla chips (Zesty Lime recommended)

Avocado Spinach Dip (makes 3 cups)


½ -1 Tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup diced yellow onion

8 oz fresh baby spinach

2 ripe avocados, mashed

1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

Juice of one small lemon (about 2 Tbsp)

1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Add oil to a large pan over medium heat.  Brown garlic and onions (about 3 mins), stirring often.

2. Add spinach and a pinch of salt. Cook spinach until wilted (2-3 mins), rotating spinach every 30 seconds.

3. Once cooked, simmer until liquid evaporates.

4. Remove from heat, transfer to a wide container or bowl and freeze for 10-15 minutes to cool.

5. Meanwhile, blend or combine avocados, yogurt, lemon juice and parsley.

Once cooked veggies are cooled, combine both mixtures in a serving bowl.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Serve cold or warm* with carrots sticks, pumpernickel bread, pita bread, celery, whole grain Triscuits, snap peas, holiday tortilla chips, you name it! *Broil in an oven safe dish for 2 minutes.

Christmas Quinoa Salad (makes 4-5 cups)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup uncooked tricolor quinoa

2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup feta or goat cheese crumbles

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 scallion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic glaze (for drizzle)


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

  2. Stir in the vegetable stock and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and cover the pan; cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid. Remove pan from heat and allow the quinoa to rest for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork. Cool in refrigerator or freezer for 10-20 minutes.

  3. Transfer cooled quinoa to a large serving bowl.

  4. Gently fold in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Drizzle salad with balsamic glaze prior to serving, if desired.

Ho Ho Holiday Bark

8-10oz bittersweet baking chocolate

(Ghirardelli 60% cacao, chips or squares)

1 cup pomegranate seeds, patted dry, divided

2 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, minced

½ tsp fine sea salt, divided

Zest from 1 medium orange, divided (about ½ tsp)


  1. Line a pan (8×8, 7x 11) or baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.

  2. Break chocolate into squares and place in a wide microwavable bowl.

  3. Microwave on high for 1 min 15 seconds, until just melted. Stir with a spatula until smooth. If needed, heat in additional 10-15 second increments.

  4. Immediately stir in ¾ cup pomegranate seeds, ginger, half the salt and half of the orange zest (which you can grate over mixture rather than measuring).

  5. Transfer mixture onto prepared sheet and spread evenly.

  6. Evenly sprinkle remaining pomegranate seeds over the mixture, lightly pushing them into the chocolate.

  7. Sprinkle remaining orange zest and sea salt.

  8. Freeze for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.

  9. Gently break bark with your hands and enjoy.

  10. If leftovers exist (doubtful), store in an airtight container in a cool dry place or in the freezer (recommended).

Healthy Hot Cocoa (makes 16 oz. or 2 cups)

2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp or 2 packets granulated stevia (Truvia), divided*

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp vanilla extract

*can also use 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Toppings and additional sweetener of choice


1. Add milk and cinnamon to a small saucepan and whisk to combine.

2. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat (stovetop 5-6).

3. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low heat (stovetop 4) and immediately add cocoa powder, vanilla and stevia. Whisk for 30-60 seconds.

4. Transfer to a small blender and blend for 10 seconds to make it frothy. Transfer to mugs and add favorite toppings (shaved dark chocolate, marshmallows, etc.). To increase sweetness, stir in additional sweetener to taste. Enjoy!

The best of both worlds: Delicious & Nutritious!

Chances are you’ll probably be attending or hosting some kind of get together this holiday season. Now we both know the best part about the holidays (besides spending time with family) is the yummy food, so why not make a dish that is not only delicious, but nutritious too! The featured red and green recipes above are fully loaded with nutrients, highlighting heart-healthy avocados and antioxidant-rich pomegranates. Both are great sources of fiber and are also packed with other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium, to name a few.  So what are you waiting for, make this a happy AND healthy holiday season!

Thanks so much for sharing this Dani!

Andy De Santis RD MPH