With the start of the holiday season, the multiple dinners and parties with work, family and friends are in full swing. Food and beverages are a major part of our celebration and we look forward to this magnificent time of year. But, unlike other special celebrations, holiday eating can become a month-long marathon. It is common to be anxious about all of this extra food and to wonder, how can I manage my food intake over the holidays, in order to start the New Year in a good place?

I am the first to admit that I enjoy tasting the array of foods at all of the holiday get-togethers — but how do we find the balance between enjoyment and over-indulging? My first tip for staying on track this time of year is to stick to an eating routine with three balanced meals a day. At lunch and dinner, vegetables should fill up half of the plate. Vegetables provide important vitamins and minerals and the fibre content helps us feel full longer.

There are many simple and delicious ways to incorporate vegetables into meals and snacks throughout the holidays. Going to a potluck party? Bring a festive vegetable platter with a variety of produce arranged into different shapes, like a broccoli wreath or a tomato and cauliflower Santa Claus. Guests will be happy to have something fun and nutritious to fill up on! Going to an evening party? Have dinner or a light snack with raw veggies or a salad before leaving the house to prevent “grazing” on all of the hors d’oeuvres and sweets.

This time of year can be really hectic, so convenience packaged vegetables may be a good option to help cut down on prep time. Buy frozen vegetables that you can steam or microwave in a few minutes when looking to throw a quick side on the table for a rushed dinner. Pack a bagged salad with vinaigrette-type dressing to help you avoid the lunch room boxes of chocolate when you get hungry. Have pre-cut raw veggies in the fridge with yogurt-based dips and hummus available for healthy snacking.

Hosting your own dinner? Soups, like roasted red pepper or sweet potato make a great starter at this time of year, when we are all looking for comfort food to warm us up. For a bright, festive salad, toss some fresh fruit like pear, pomegranate seeds or mandarin orange with some leafy greens. Try the salad below, topped with crispy gnocchi, as a main with toasted baguette or divide into smaller portions and serve as a first course at a holiday dinner party.

Crispy gnocchi with bruschetta and arugula salad


1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 pkg (350 g) PC Gnocchi Potato Dumplings

1 tbsp (15 mL) PC Splendido White Condiment with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 cups (1.5 L) lightly packed PC Organics Baby Arugula

1/2 cup (125 mL) PC Tomato Basil Bruschetta Topping

1/4 cup (50 mL) shaved PC Splendido Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese


1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring often, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer garlic with slotted spoon to small bowl, leaving oil in skillet. Set garlic aside.

2. Heat same skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 2 tbsp oil, white condiment, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add arugula and garlic; toss to coat. Divide among serving plates. Top with gnocchi, dividing evenly.

4. Heat same skillet over medium heat. Add bruschetta topping; cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 1 minute. Spoon over gnocchi mixture and top with cheese, dividing evenly.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 310 calories, fat 18 g (4 g of which is saturated), sodium 610 mg, carbohydrate 31 g, fibre 3 g, sugars 7 g, protein 8 g

Chef’s Tip: Keep a close eye on the sliced garlic as it’s cooking – it can quickly go from golden to burned.

Recipe Source: www.pc.ca

Hayley Ewing is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in Bridgewater and Liverpool. Have a nutrition question? Want to book a free appointment or educational store tour for yourself or your community group or business? You can reach her at (902) 521-4261 or hayley.ewing@loblaw.ca.