Delicious Clean Eating Traditional Christmas Dishes
Christmas is quickly approaching. You likely have tons of family and friends coming to celebrate with you, or you are traveling to be with them this holiday. Either way, now's the time that you are likely putting together your menu, or trying to decide how you're going to make the dishes you've been assigned to make.
What's really interesting about the Christmas dinner is that nothing seems to really be "traditional." Everyone makes a meal for Christmas that is as unique as their family. Many people turn to their cultures and roots to know what to make for their holiday meal. Some people even like to duplicate the Thanksgiving meal again, maybe serving ham instead of turkey this time, or vice versa.
This is a hard one for me this year, as we have been traveling long distances for the last 10 years as a family to get to our holiday celebrations. There really was no way to make my own traditional dishes at home and bring them, and being an outsider to my husband's family traditions, I've never been asked to help with the traditional Christmas meal. But now we live super close and I have the opportunity to participate again!
What to make... what to make. This seemed like a great time to pull together a collection of traditional Christmas dishes to consider. Not only does this help me decide what to make this year, it also gives me the opportunity to share some great clean eating recipes with my readers, as well. I have a feeling my family will be doing two Christmas meals this year—like we did for Thanksgiving—so we can have some leftovers to enjoy at home.
Let's look at some of these fabulous recipes!
Healthier Traditional Christmas Dishes
- Prime Rib Roast
- Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
- Delicious Gravy for Any Kind of Meat
- Honeyed Carrots
- Classic Green Bean Casserole
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
- Yule Log (bûche de Noël)
- Christmas Pudding
1. Prime Rib Roast
This seems to be one of the most popular main dishes to make at Christmas time if you want something different from the basic turkey and ham dinners. This recipe, modified from My Clean Kitchen, is juicy and delicious, and can be the highlight of your whole meal. I do suggest that you check out a video for how to cut it once it's done.
- 3-4 pounds prime rib roast
- 6 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons pink Himalayan salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 cups beef broth (homemade preferred)
- Using a sharp paring knife, make 20 shallow incisions in the fat cap of the roast, and slide 1 garlic slice into each incision. Use your fingers or the dull side of the knife to cover them.
- Combine the salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the roast. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and set the roast, fat side up in a roasting pan just big enough to fit it. If the pan is too big the pan juices will evaporate.
- Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Roast for about 2 hours.
- Transfer the roast to a cutting board and allow to rest for 20 minutes. While the roast is resting, place the roasting pan directly on the stove-top over medium heat.
- Skim as much fat off the top as you can, add just enough beef broth to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Scrape the bottom to get the cooked bits up. Bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Strain the juice through a fine mesh into a small saucepan. Season the juice with salt and pepper and keep it warm over low heat.
- Carefully cut the bones off the rib roast by cutting just along the rib angling the blade towards the bones to guide the knife through without damaging the meat.
- Finally, cut the prime rib roast into slices. The juice can be used as your gravy.
We have used this recipe from Clean Eats 101 many times in our own home, traditionally for Christmastime. We always make sure to purchase our ham nitrate-free from Sprouts so that in addition to all of the yummy healthy ingredients we use to make it, we can rest assured that we aren’t putting any unnecessary chemicals into our bodies. You’re going to love the taste of this amazing ham! And don't forget to make the gravy. It's better than any gravy you've had previously, and that's saying something.
- 1-3 pounds boneless cooked ham
- 1 cup local honey
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice (straight from the pineapple)
- 1 cup of pineapple
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
- Insert oven-safe thermometer into center of ham.
- Bake uncovered for 1-1.5 hours.
- In a mixing bowl, add honey, sugar, molasses, and pineapple juice. Whisk well.
- Last 30 minutes of baking remove the ham and add the honey/pineapple glaze.
- Place pineapple rings on top of the ham and place back into oven for additional 30 minutes.
2. Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
We had these for our Friendsgiving meal after Thanksgiving this year, with homemade gravy, and they were hands down my favorite part of the whole meal. My only wish was that we had double the mashed potatoes for leftovers! You'll need to try them for yourself to see.
- 6 large baking potatoes, cleaned and cut into chunks
- 2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 bunch chives, chopped
- 6 tablespoons real butter
- 3 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt
- Add potatoes to a large pot of water on the stove and boil for about 30 minutes, until a fork goes through potatoes easily.
- Drain the water and return the potatoes to the pot.
- While your potatoes are still hot, add your butter, cream, garlic, salt, and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Mash or beat the potatoes until they are creamy in texture.
- Chop and stir in your chives.
- Top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
3. Delicious Gravy for Any Kind of Meat
Gravy is so easy to make! Especially if you are using the meat drippings from your already seasoned turkey, ham or prime rib, you really don't need much to pull together a delectable gravy that will complement your main dish and pull everything together. This recipe, modified from Homemade in the Kitchen, will allow you to make any flavor of gravy you want, and you can guarantee it will be delicious.
- 1/4 cup real butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1 cup meat drippings
- 1 tablespoon organic whole milk
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Once hot, stir in the flour and and salt and cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in the broth/stock and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Serve while hot.
4. Honeyed Carrots
This is one of those dishes that disappears first on our family's table. Notice I used whole carrots for this dish. Honestly, we don't even peel them because much of the nutrients in carrots are found in the skin. Simply wash and scrub them and you are ready to roast! They always taste much better than the chemical soaked baby carrots you find in stores as well. Give them a try this year! You'll be surprised.
- 1 pound small carrots
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons honey, melted
- 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the carrots in a single layer on the baking pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together your coconut oil, honey, and salt and melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Pour the honey mixture over your carrots and toss to coat them.
- Place them in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and browned. Roasting time may vary depending on the size of the carrots.
5. Classic Green Bean Casserole
I’ve always loved green bean casserole. It’s simple, packed full of yummy green beans, and doesn’t take a heck of a lot of effort to make. Is it the star of the show? Well, no. But it’s definitely a welcome part of our Christmas dinner menu. Give it a try with this healthier version this year, and you’ll understand.
- 1.5 pounds green beans, chopped into smaller pieces
- 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1 cup organic whole milk
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons half and half
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon real butter
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced into circles
- 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9×9 casserole dish with some coconut oil.
- Bring your water to a boil in a large pot. Boil the green beans until almost done, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a separate pan, saute your onions in 1 tablespoon butter until they’re nice and brown. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pan, add your mushrooms and saute until soft. Add in enough flour to coat the mushrooms. Next, pour in the milk, whisking as you pour. Add water, half and half, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and whisk until combined. Add the green beans into the mushroom sauce and stir to combine.
- In a bowl, mix your onions with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and water and stir to combine.
- Pour the green bean mixture into your prepared casserole dish. Top it with the onions and bake uncovered for about 25 minutes.
6. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Yum! Brussels sprouts are my favorite. So many people say them don’t like them, but I’m under the impression that they just haven’t tasted them prepared properly before. I love them, and my kids love them. I would serve them a lot more often if I could. These yummy tidbits are sure to make a splash at any Thanksgiving meal.
- 3 pounds brussels sprouts, cut in half
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- Pinch pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Chop your brussels sprouts and toss them with your minced garlic, coconut oil, and salt in a large bowl.
- When the oven is hot, divide your brussels sprouts evenly between both trays, shaking to distribute them into a single even layer. Slide the pans into the oven.
- Roast your brussels sprouts for about 20 minutes, until they are brown and tender, tossing your sprouts on the pan halfway through cooking.
- Immediately after removing them from the oven, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and shake to coat them all evenly.
7. Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
The first time I had this yummy casserole was 10 years ago when I first met my husband. He had invited me to his parents' house to spend the holidays with them. I would never have thought to serve broccoli and cheese at Christmas, but it was a nice treat along with all of the rest of the yummy sides. Broccoli and cheese is definitely a classic! It's now one of my favorite holiday side dishes.
- 2 pounds (2 heads) fresh broccoli
- 6 tablespoons real butter
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cup organic whole milk
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish with some coconut oil.
- Chop and steam your broccoli in a large pot on the stove, in a steamer basket over medium-high heat. You’ll want your broccoli to turn bright green and be fork tender.
- When finished steaming, pour the broccoli into your prepared baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over the top.
- Slide it into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Homemade Cranberry Sauce
When I learned a couple of years ago that you could make your own homemade cranberry sauce, I just had to try it. I was used to the same old cranberry canned-shaped jelly that everyone serves every year and needed something healthier. You’re going to love just how easy it really is to make on your own, and I bet you never go back to the old stuff.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup raw honey
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- Begin by washing your fresh cranberries and removing the stems, straining out all extra water in a strainer in the sink.
- In a large sauce pot, bring your 1 cup of water to boiling over medium heat. Add in your 1 cup of honey and stir until fully dissolved.
- Add in your strained, cleaned fresh cranberries, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.
- Your cranberries will start bursting and your sauce will begin to turn red and thicken. Once your cranberry sauce has been cooking for about 10 minutes, take off of the heat to cool.
- Your cranberry sauce will thicken even more while cooling. You may serve it as is or add any extras you would like. Many people add orange zest, lemon or lime zest, or even chopped pecans.
- For those of you who do not like chunky cranberry sauce, you can even make it transparent and chunk free. To do this, place a large bowl in your sink with a small-holed strainer over the top. (You cannot use a typical pasta strainer for this to work.)
- Pour your finished cranberry sauce into your strainer. Push the juice through with a wooden spoon, smashing out everything that will fit through the strainer sans seeds, skins, etc.
9. Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
I can’t tell you how good these are. They take a little bit of time to make, only because you’ve got to give them plenty of time to rise, but it’s so worth it! They are soft and fluffy and oh so delicious. We make these homemade rolls for many occasions, one of those being Christmas.
- 2 tablespoons yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
- 1/2 cup real butter, melted
- 1/4 cup raw honey, melted
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- Grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish with some coconut oil.
- Pour the 2 tablespoons of yeast into your 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix gently and let sit. It may start to foam.
- In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour and your salt and mix.
- Then add your butter, honey, eggs, and water and mix again. The recipe specifies lukewarm water so it doesn’t solidify the butter and honey again. ‘
- Mix in your yeast and water mixture, and finally add in the last 2 1/2 cups of flour. Mix with a large spoon until you can’t anymore.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and finish combining with your hands. Pop back into the mixing bowl, cover and let it rise for 1 hour.
- Now, pull it out of the bowl and split into 24 different rolls.
- Place each roll into your prepared casserole dish. Cover and let rise again for an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- When the oven is ready, bake your rolls for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are brown.
10. Yule Log (bûche de Noël)
This amazing yule log from Clean Eating Magazine is actually filled with dark chocolate raspberry cheesecake! Yum! The traditional yule log is simply a yellow cake rolled in chocolate frosting, and covered in decorated chocolate frosting. If this is what you'd prefer, there are some great recipes for "traditional yule logs". But why have something normal and generic when you can have a chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate raspberry cheesecake?
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, plus additional for dusting
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips, melted
- 1/4 cup organic whole milk
- 3 tablespoons real butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 eggs, divided
- 1/2 cup raw honey, divided
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 tablespoon raw honey, melted
- 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon real butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 10 x 15 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, measure out and mix all of your dry ingredients.
- Then add all of your wet ingredients. Mix well.
- Pour your mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and spread evenly over the entire surface, reaching all 4 corners.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- When finished, invert your cake onto a clean kitchen towel dusted with flour.
- Peel off parchment and roll up cake from short ends using towel. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make your filling. In a small saucepan, combine your raspberries and raw honey. Heat on medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until berries break down completely and mixture becomes syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- In a medium bowl, add your cream cheese and butter and mix until soft and creamy.
- Now, add your raspberry mixture and mix. Refrigerate until needed.
- Finally, unroll your cake, and remove the towel.
- Spread your filling evenly over the whole cake.
- Starting with a short side, re-roll the cake into a tight cylinder.
- To serve, slice crosswise into 10 slices. (TIP: If not serving immediately, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
11. Christmas Pudding
This incredible recipe was shared with me, and has since been modified from Gather and Feast. It's a little different than the recipes you might be used to, unless you have previously made Christmas Pudding before. This is kind of like fruit cake, but much less dense and much more flavorful. It's sure worth a shot at your Christmas dinner this holiday. Give it a shot and see what you think!
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2/3 cup dates, chopped
- 1/2 cup apricots, chopped
- 1/2 cup cherries, chopped
- 1 orange, skin and all, cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 5 eggs
- 2/3 cup raw honey
- 1 cup almonds, crushed
- 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dehydrated fruit, homemade preferred
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a medium-sized, oven-safe bowl with some coconut oil.
- Combine all fresh fruit and water into a medium saucepan and bring to boil.
- Lower your temperature and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the fruit has formed a thick paste (the orange slices will still be intact, this is okay).
- Stir in the coconut oil and set aside to cool.
- Place the cooled date mix into a food processor and process until smooth.
- Transfer to a large bowl and add your dried fruit, crushed nuts, spices, and eggs, and mix well.
- Pour the whole mixture into your prepared bowl.
- Place the bowl into a deep baking tray (I use a roasting tray), then pour hot water into the baking tray until it reaches ½ to ¾ of the way up.
- Cover the tray and pudding bowl with a layer of parchment paper then foil. Make sure it is completely sealed so no steam can escape.
- Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove the tray from the oven, but be careful there is very hot water in the tray!
- Remove the foil and paper away from yourself to ensure you don't get burnt by the steam escaping.
- Loosen the edges of the pudding with a knife and turn onto a serving plate.
- Serve with heavy cream, if desired.
Although the focus on Thanksgiving is more about the food it seems, I really think the focus at Christmastime is family and new beginnings. This last Christmas we had a huge move when our landlord in Arizona passed away. We struggled to find a home in the very short period of time we were given to move (with a brand-new baby), and so we chose to move closer to family where housing and jobs were also more available. We were starting all over again in a new state as parents of two small boys instead of just one.
The Christmas before that, we had just suffered 5 miscarriages and a late-term pregnancy loss. We were pregnant again, this time with a little girl, but were wary. We lost that pregnancy too shortly after, but it was immediately followed by the healthy pregnancy of our second little boy.
I remember the Christmas two years before that where we were introducing our brand-new first born son to the family. The one before that we thought we would never get pregnant after two years of trying. his oldest brother announced their pregnancy on Christmas day and we spent the night crying together. We even missed one Christmas because that was the year Tim proposed to me.
Christmastime has always been very meaningful for us. It's always been a special time to spend with family and catch up, and a time for big changes. As you sit and eat your Christmas dinner with friends and/or family this year, consider what changes you can make for the better this next year, and cherish those around you. I hope these recipes make your holidays a little easier and a little sweeter.
© 2018 Victoria Van Ness