The holiday season is an opportunity to unwind, practice well-being, give thanks, and—this month in particular—acknowledge your gratitude for people, circumstances, items, and other things you value and appreciate in your life. Whether you’re celebrating in person or virtually, coming together and spending time with your loved ones is both exciting and overwhelming. Indulge a little, but support and prioritize well-being for both yourself and your loved ones with healthy renditions of your favorite or traditional holiday side dishes.

What the Research Tells Us

Simply connecting with others is important for everyone’s well-being, but involving healthy food takes it another step further. Balanced and healthy food choices are important for your overall health and well-being. Other factors, such as the time of the day for your biggest meal, moving after meals, and practicing portion control, can also influence your health and wellness, particularly in terms of glucose uptake.

The art and ritual of cooking your own healthy and enjoyable food has mental wellness benefits, too. Studies show that it boosts your confidence and self-esteem, increases your social connections and feelings of belonging, improves mood and affect (in a group of patients with cancer, too), and increases psychosocial well-being and health-related quality of life.

How to Practice

Host a gathering this season and prepare some healthy dishes to serve to your friends or family. Use your favorite tried-and-true recipes, or explore some new ones such as the simple menu below.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

  • 1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6.5–7 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Download the recipe card and visit the Food Network for full preparation instructions.

Vegan Wild Rice–Stuffed Butternut Squash

  • 2 medium butternut squash (2–2.25 pounds each)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dried unsweetened cherries
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Download the recipe card and visit the Food Network for full preparation instructions.

Green Bean Casserole With Crispy Shallots

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 medium shallots, sliced into rings (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 pounds thin fresh green beans or haricots verts, trimmed
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 large gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 cups low-fat (1%) milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup finely fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Download the recipe card and visit the Food Network for full preparation instructions.