Philips air fryer with vegetables

The holidays are meant for indulgence, loading up on big portions and sweet treats you make at home with your small appliances or that you might be treated to at a gathering at a friend or family member’s place. Combine this with the office parties, dinners, leftovers, treat gifts, and festive cocktails, and it’s challenging to maintain a healthy eating plan through the season. But you can do your best by creating a well-balanced holiday menu for you and your guests that lets everyone indulge while being balanced as well.

Combine traditional with non-traditional

Ninja Foodi air fryer

The holiday season isn’t the holiday season without the usuals like turkey, ham, roast beef, or fish. But consider doing a few different options so everyone has a choice. Instead of a 20-lb. turkey, for example, maybe go with a smaller 12-15 lb. one and make a salmon fillet as well for those who want something healthier. Serve gravy on the side and complement the starchy sides with more than one vegetable option. This way if someone is a vegan or vegetarian, they can fill their plate with a variety of items and still have enough for a full meal.

Consider doing potatoes two ways, one with dairy products like butter and milk and another just roasted with oil and spices. It’s easy to do a second potato dish in a pressure cooker or multicooker like an Instant Pot, which can bake potatoes in about 20 minutes. Or use an air fryer to get a nice crispy texture without needing any oil at all.

For side dishes like rice, make a half portion of regular and another half portion of cauliflower rice. Yes, this will require more plates and serving dishes. But no one feels left out, and you can still fill your plate without any of the guilt.

Use alternative cooking methods

Breville Joule sous video

The air fryer noted above is a great option to make all types of dishes you might otherwise deep fry in a much healthier way. Pop in a tray of appetizers, even proteins, and cook them to perfection without smothering them in oil. Consider a sous vide machine to cook proteins slowly while still maintaining all their nutrients.

For vegetables, use a steamer to cook them to perfection while maintaining all their nutrients as well. An air fryer can also be used for vegetables like Brussel sprouts that are crispy and filling. If you love to combine them with bacon and maple syrup like I do, consider putting the cooked bacon and syrup in dishes on the side, or divide and also serve a smaller portion without the bacon and maple syrup for those who prefer it.

You can use a specialty small appliance like a spiralizer, food processor with the right blades, or spiralizing attachment for a stand mixer to make a salad that’s eye-catching and delicious. Even the meat lovers will reach for a helping of a salad that adds tons of colour and detail to the plate.

food processor with vegetables

Consider dietary restrictions

Also consider dietary restrictions your guests might have. Nowadays, you’ll find more and more people who can’t or choose not to eat gluten. Then, there are those who have issues with lactose and dairy, and vegans and vegetarians. I, for example, have a dairy sensitivity, which means using alternatives like oat milk and lactose-free sour cream, yogurt, and milk in cooking.

Apex Global serving dish on table

You don’t have to cater every dish to every person but have alternatives. For example, consider a kale dip to go alongside the ranch one for the appetizers. Use gluten-free flour for baked goods and gravies. It’s easily accessible nowadays and while slightly more expensive, it doesn’t taste any different nor impact the texture. Along with basic steamed vegetables, create a succulent vegetarian dish for those who aren’t going to indulge in the protein you have cooked. And leave the nuts out of pie crust and cookies (or bake a nut-free selection separately) for those with allergies.

As you set out the serveware, make sure to label the dishes so everyone knows not only what’s what, but which dishes are free of allergens or were made with healthier ingredients.

What about dessert?

Zyliss bakeware tart pan

Yes, you can make dessert healthier, too! Consider festive smoothies in a blender, both dairy and non-dairy, or whip up a batch of avocado tofu chocolate pudding. (Trust me, it’s delicious and the kids won’t taste the difference!) Top it off with fresh fruit.

For whipped cream toppings, make a coconut whip as an alternative option and serve it on the side for those who prefer to go without. For baked goods, replace some of the refined sugar with mashed ripe banana or apple sauce: cook fresh apples in the oven, stove top, or an Instant Pot ahead of time. This will instantly make desserts like muffins, cupcakes, and sweet breads healthier while still offering the same level of sweetness.

Creating a balanced holiday menu is simple

With some pre-planning and the right small appliances, you can create a healthy, balanced holiday menu that includes everyone and most dietary needs or desires while also celebrating with a bit of indulgence. No one has to feel restricted as they fill their plates, and tummies will be full just the same. The best part is that these dishes don’t require additional time, just different cooking methods, dividing up portions, and using more serving platters.

See plenty of small appliances to help you create a balanced holiday menu at Best Buy Online.

Check out Best Buy online for some amazing small appliances and serving dishes to make your holiday meal extra special this year.

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.


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