The onslaught of pumpkin-flavored everything that autumn inevitably brings has come and gone, and now we are facing the long, cold winter. This is an especially depressing prospect if you live in the Midwest and won't see the sun until April, but there's a silver lining to this depressing reality: holiday season vegetables. 

We all know the statistics: the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year's is 3.5 pounds. While this isn't the end of the world, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I would rather maintain my current size than overindulge on candy canes and cookies.

Fortunately, there is a very simple way to do so. While I'm not advising anyone to completely pass up the holiday goodies this year, there are healthy alternatives that taste just as good, albeit in a different way.

The days of eschewing our vegetables at dinner so we can skip ahead to dessert are behind us. There are so many delicious options out there for spicing up boring old veggies. I've included a couple of my winter favorites:


salad, herb, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, parsley, kale, vegetable
Helena Lin

Kale is a hugely popular superfood right now, which isn't surprising because of all the benefits it has to offer. It's also in season, which means less GMOs and more organic options in your supermarket. While I know only too well how bitter kale can taste tossed in with your classic Iceberg lettuce, my first (positive) introduction to this leafy cabbage was a couple Christmases ago, when my sister made kale chips

Game. Over. Kale can be an acquired taste, but I fell in love with it after just one chip. It was crispy, salty, and delicious. Plus, they're low-calorie and nutritious, so there's really no drawback here. Impress your family by baking a batch or two of these in the oven to serve as an appetizer at your holiday party. Because they're so unique, they're a great conversation starter as well.

Brussels Sprouts

chicken, wine, sprouts
Anna Bradley

Brussels are yet another staple of my winter diet. Its list of health benefits isn't quite as extensive as that of kale, but there are some major perks to incorporating these into your eating habits. If you're like me and try to eat these all year long, you will have noticed the pretty drastic size difference between the summer offerings and those of the past couple months – the sprouts in my local supermarket are huge now.

My favorite way to prepare brussels sprouts is to roast them in the oven with some pecans. The salt and garlic in this recipe combine for a really nice flavor, and the pecans provide additional nutrition. I ordered a similar dish as an appetizer from Evil Czech Brewery, and they gave the traditional recipe a (slightly less healthy!) twist with pomegranate molasses and smoking goose-bacon. Yum. 


rice, vegetable, sweet, cauliflower
Kristine Mahan

Perhaps the most divisive winter vegetable, you either love it or you hate it. While steaming veggies is always the healthiest way to prepare them, cauliflower especially could use a little extra seasoning to boost its approval ratings. 

Cue this bomb roasted garlic recipe. Much like kale and brussels sprouts, cauliflower functions as an antioxidant and a good source of Vitamin C. By zesting it up with some garlic and parmesan, you can feel good about helping your body while also getting a rich variety of flavors. I can personally vouch for this preparation method and I recommend it for everyone, even if they don't think they like cauliflower. 

It's an internal battle every time you have to pick between your mom's white chocolate macaroon cookies or another helping of steamed carrots, but vegetables don't always have to be bland and feel like gastronomic purgatory! The options I've highlighted are not only good for you, they taste good too. Making healthy eating choices will not be one of your regrets this holiday season.