Heart Healthy Holiday: Fresh takes on holiday party favorites with the American Heart Association

Heart Healthy Holiday: Fresh takes on holiday party favorites with the American Heart Association

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Is food guilt ruining the spirit of the season for you?

First of all, let’s just let go of that really quick. Ready, set… let it go. Feel better? Now let’s talk healthy swaps. Because there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your holiday while also prioritizing your health. So here’s the goal with this. There’s no reason in denying yourself your favorite holiday food, according to registered dietitian with the American Heart Association, Kay Macinnis.

“I brought some things with me some things today to just look at some healthier options,” said Kay. “Not that I don’t want you to indulge in those things that you really like, but there are options. And it’s always nice to have those options.”

In the first of our three-part mini-series with the American Heart Association, we are focusing on heart-healthy and heart-supportive foods for your traditional holiday party or gathering. We focused on the traditional charcuterie board with some healthier tweaks, a fresh take on a bruschetta and an assortment of suggestions for finding the right holiday cocktail or mocktail.

HEART-HEALTHY CHARCUTERIE BOARD: How often do you see a charcuterie board full of salted meats and high-fat cheeses? So much, right? Kay advises anyone watching their cholesterol or calorie intake that this can usually be a big source of those extra calories that add up quickly. Enjoy in moderation, of course, but here are some interesting swaps to think about.

Try looking for things like olives, pickles, and low-fat cheeses (try swapping regular cream cheese for lower fat cream cheese!) The more color, the better! Kay says to look for veggies that you can cut and dip in things like hummus or pair with a slice of cheese. Figs, dried fruits like apricots and fresh pomegranate also make a colorful addition to any board. Layer in different types of crackers, including wheat, gluten-free, rice crackers and seed crackers. Apples and fresh honey (with the honeycomb!) make a sweet addition as well.


  • Fresh baguette, sliced into small pieces.
  • Avocado, mashed.
  • Everything But The Bagel seasoning
  • Feta cheese

Layer on and enjoy!


  • Fresh baguette, sliced into pieces.
  • Goat cheese, slathered on.
  • Boars Head “salsalita” turkey.
  • Homemade cranberry relish (By Kay!)

Layer on and enjoy!


  • 12 ounces of fresh cranberries 
  • 1 orange seeds removed, peel on, sliced into sections
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • Fresh cranberries and orange for garnish

Place the cranberries, sliced oranges and sugar in the food processor and process until smooth or until no large chunks remain. Refrigerate until ready to serve for at least an hour. This cranberry relish can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

And there you have it! For drinks, if you have non-alcoholic attendants to your party, Kay says offer different options for beverages. Have your bubbly, if that’s your thing, but you can also serve sparkling water with fresh fruit infused, like pomegranate seeds or citrus. If you’re an eggnog fan, there are many different types of eggnog now that do not run 200+ calories a serving. Look for low-fat or “almond” versions to cut the calories in half.

Stay tuned for our Christmas and Hanukkah swaps on WIS-TV at 4 PM later this week.

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