Dietitian gives healthy alternatives to holiday favorites

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Friday, November 17, 2023
Healthy recipes to try this holiday season
Dietitian Dolores Woods takes us into her kitchen to talk about healthy alternatives to holiday foods with simple recipes you can try at home.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- All this week, AB1C3 is serving up tips for the holidays. On Thursday, we are talking about healthy alternatives to holiday foods with simple recipes you can try at home.

We spoke with a registered dietitian at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Dolores Woods, who took us into her kitchen to show us a few easy recipes you too can try.

"It's fresh apples and cinnamon," Woods said. "There's maple syrup..."

Woods says you'll notice these colorful dishes are festive, and the best part is they're healthier for you.

In her opinion she says, it's all about maintaining flavor while swapping out certain ingredients.

Instead of buying an apple pie, try making an apple crisp!

"You're not gonna have the crust, which is really high in the saturated fat. So instead, it is just topped with some oatmeal and some maple syrup with some walnuts, and that's going to make it healthier overall," Woods said.

Here are the recipes.

Apple crisp


  • 4 cups of diced apples
  • 2 tbsp. of pure maple syrup - divided use
  • 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon - divided use
  • 1 cup of dry rolled oats
  • 1 cup of finely chopped raw walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Combine apples, 1 tbsp. of maple syrup, and a tsp. of cinnamon in a medium baking dish; mix well. Set aside.

3. Combine oats, walnuts, the remaining 1 tbsp. of maple syrup, and remaining tsp. of cinnamon in a medium bowl; mix well.

4. Top apple mixture with oat mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until apples are soft.

Quinoa stuffing is another alternative Woods suggests.

"There's onion celery and apples that got sautéed and then added some spices - some poultry seasoning, dried thyme, salt, pepper, and then the quinoa with some chicken stock," Woods said. "Let it come to a boil and then simmer it for 15 minutes until the quinoa is done, and that's really it."

Quinoa dressing


  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 medium celery stalks, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 medium green apple, with peel (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups of low-sodium organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tsp. of sea salt
  • 1 tsp. of dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. of poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp. of ground sage
  • 1 tsp. of ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup of pecans, toasted


1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion, celery, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until tender.

3. Add diced apple, salt, thyme, sage, and pepper, and cook for one minute. Add quinoa and toast for about one minute.

4. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, for 15 minutes, or until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.

5. Add cranberries. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

6. Add parsley and pecans; fluff with fork and serve.

Not to mention, Woods says quinoa is packed with protein and it will absorb all the spices, creating a nice fall flavor and so will these honey-roasted sweet potatoes.

"You're probably more familiar with the sweet potato casserole with a lot of brown sugar and marshmallow topping," Woods said. "These are really simple, they are just sliced roasted and with some olive oil, honey, and cinnamon, and so you get a really nice glaze."

Honey roasted sweet potatoes


  • 4 sweet potatoes, sliced into inch circles
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the oil. Brush honey over each slice and sprinkle cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender. Remove from oven, flip slice over with tongs and brush remaining honey over each slice.

3. Transfer them to a serving platter.