December holidays have been known as “the most wonderful time of the year”, but did you know it is also the most fattening time of the year as well?

The fact is that an average American gains a few pounds during the month of holiday parties, family gatherings and food gifts galore.

Because many holiday dishes are drenched with fattening dressings, I suggest making your own and then bringing them to group gatherings. Why not share the joy of healthy eating with friends and family?

Here are some ideas on how to “accessorize” your holiday favorites, so you don’t deprive yourself of fitting into a fabulous new year’s outfit.

Smoked salt: To get the smoky flavor of fatty ham, simply add smoked salt to your side dishes. It goes great with lightly sautéed spinach with portobello mushrooms and tomatoes.

Fresh rosemary, thyme and sage: Use these fresh herbs to season your meals to get holiday flavor without adding extra calories. Try adding them to your roasted sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts to create a colorful holiday dish.

Go green with green beans: Enjoy your green beans simply roasted with a touch of extra virgin olive oil and almond slivers. You will get lots of protein and fiber to keep you full and satisfied.

Mashed potatoes alternative: Try adding a mashed celery root, parsnips or cauliflower to your mashed potatoes to cut down the calories and the starch.

Stuffing: Forget low-quality stuffing with wheat bread. Gluten is so last year! Make your own with sprouted Ezekiel bread. Recipe below.

Desserts: Opt for dark chocolate bark that is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Recipe below.

Better than turkey: If you are still looking for a high-protein, meaty dish, then try this chicken-less chicken with gravy. It tastes and looks like poultry but is 100 percent vegan and cholesterol-free.

BETTER THAN TURKEY DINNER RECIPE

Protein Source: 1 Package of Lightly-Seasoned Beyond Meat Chicken, roughly chopped

Raw Vegan Mushroom Gravy

1 pound of sliced baby bella mushrooms

1/2 cup walnuts, soaked overnight and drained

1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained

1/2 cup coconut aminos (it’s a soy sauce substitute)

1/2 cup flax seeds, ground

4 cups filtered water

1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

1 clove garlic

Place mushrooms in coconut aminos and marinate for 1-2 hours.

In a high-speed blender, blend coconut aminos, water, pepper, walnuts, cashews and garlic until creamy. Pour into a serving dish and stir in the mushrooms. Let gravy set for 30 minutes to thicken.

Pour the gravy over the chicken-less chicken and serve with your favorite side dishes. My favorite meal would be this entrée with the stuffing, Brussels sprouts and cooked cranberries combined with cooked pears.

HEALTHY STUFFING

1/2 a loaf of Ezekiel bread

1 sweet onion, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups of veggie stock

¼ cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon fresh sage

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Toast the bread until dry and crispy and cut in small pieces. Set aside.

In a pan, sauté celery and onions until onion is translucent. Add seasoning and walnuts and stir in for about a minute.

Add the bread pieces and let soak until desired consistency is reached.

ANTIOXIDANT CHOCOLATE HOLIDAY BARK

2 cups of dark chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups of walnuts

1 1/2 cups dry sour cherries

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup goji berries for topping

1/3 cup raw cacao nibs

Melt chocolate in a pan on the stove. Remove from stove and mix in walnuts, cacao nibs and sour cherries. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Place saran wrap on top of a rectangular plate and pour the chocolate mixture on top.

Cover with another piece of wrap and press with hands to let air out between nuts and dried cherries. Sprinkle with coconut, pumpkin seeds and remaining sour cherries.

Place in the fridge until chocolate is solid again. Cut in small pieces and enjoy!

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About Alina Z.

Alina Z., aka “The Green Goddess,” is a certified holistic health coach, detox specialist and raw-food chef (she conducts occasional classes at Whole Foods in Boca). Prior to moving to Florida,  Alina hosted her own TV show in Maryland—“Entertaining A to Z”—for people who didn’t have time to cook but wanted to eat healthy. Catch one of her web episodes at eHow.com, visit Alina’s website at alinaz.com, or follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/CoutureFood) or Twitter (@CoutureFood). The Green Goddess blog runs every other Wednesday at bocamag.com.