Get inspired to truly celebrate your holiday traditions with these tips from nutritionists on how they can honor family traditions during the holiday season, including Christmas traditions.
One of the best things about the holiday season is spending time with the people you love, and enjoying delicious foods as part of your family tradition. Food traditions are those practices surrounding foods that have been passed down through generations, especially for holiday traditions. Maybe your grandmother made tamales for the holidays with her secret family recipe, or your mom boiled a pot of black-eyed peas for good luck (she did, which is what inspired the black-eyed pea salad featured in my book Powered for life). Or maybe you’ve started a new holiday tradition, like making and decorating sugar cookies with your kids (this is my tradition, mentioned above), or making food gifts, like homemade muffins or bread. Whatever these holiday traditions are, they are worth celebrating and passing on to the next generation.
The photo above shares some of my holiday food traditions. For the past 25 years we have hosted our annual Swedish Christmas party with friends and family at our home. This started in our tiny home in Pasadena, California, followed to our home in Bradbury, California (pictured above) where we had dinner by the vegetable garden, and now continues to our new home in Ojai, California. Every member of our party shares the menu, creating a new holiday tradition.
Dietitians are especially connected to cultural food traditions, so I couldn’t wait to talk to my colleagues about how they celebrate holiday traditions. They shared some of their treasured family holiday traditions today. And don’t forget to check out my blog on how you can Pew Food Traditions For more inspiration this holiday season.
Dietitians love family traditions for the holiday season
1. Forage for seasonal foods
Whether you’re looking for seasonal vegan foods at the supermarket, farmers market, or outdoors, one thing’s for sure—the produce could be the star of your holiday table. “Foraging! A recent family tradition we enjoy, while living here in Spain, is foraging for fall foods. The tradition at this time of year is to head out into the mountains on weekends to hunt mushrooms, forage for chestnuts and pick apples. We love it as a way to escape from The city, enjoying the fresh air and enjoying the local foods of the area.Here is a photo from last weekend when we went mushroom hunting in Girona.When foraging, I recommend going with a local or an expert because picking your own food can be dangerous if you don’t know the varieties, says Dineen Marie, MPH, RDN.
2. Classical cultural cuisine
Take a deeper look at your cultural food traditions and include them in your holiday cooking. “My favorite family holiday tradition is eating Croatian sauerkraut at every holiday meal. What makes sauerkraut different is that it has tomato sauce in it. We always eat our meals family style. Lots of wine is involved. And the food is distributed in courses, so the meal lasts about two hours or more to eat it.” Sarah KoszykMA, RDN.
3. It’s all about the holiday table
This holiday season, be sure to spend as much time as possible around the actual table (not in front of the TV or computer!) with your family and friends enjoying special food traditions and meals. “My favorite memories of all the holiday meals at my parents’ house are around the table. We have the same great traditional foods every year, but the table is what sets me apart. You see, my mother takes a lot of effort to make sure the table is big enough so we can share holiday meals seated together.” .as the family grew despite marriages and children, she kept adding tables to make room.Years ago, we bought her a tablecloth long enough to cover all the extras on the tables, so once again, “one” table we all share together at home, she grew up My siblings and I. It’s great—I look forward to those meals every holiday!” says Jodi Danen, RDN, founder Create a kids club.
4. Cookies and cookies everywhere!
Take the time to enjoy holiday baking, and enjoy favorite cookie recipes that have been handed down through generations. “Every Christmas I would go to my grandmother’s house and make dozens of birthday cakes all day long. She was Polish so there were a lot of them since she was younger and you don’t see them in stores. She had silver dot cookie decorations, To many different icing sugars in all colors to pearls and little icing. It was so much fun and I think that’s where I learned to love baking,” says Kim Melton, RD. Nutrition Pro Consulting.
5. The joys of homemade lasagna
Lasagna belongs on a lot of holiday tables, even if you’re not Italian! It’s the perfect celebratory, vegan comfort food entrée. “While we had a huge Italian Christmas celebration on the actual day with 50+ family members, I always enjoyed Christmas Eve growing up with only my grandparents in my house. We had lasagna every year and then attended midnight mass together. Now after Since my grandparents were gone and I got a dairy allergy later in life, I made lasagna noodles from scratch using her old pasta machine and made delicious tofu cheese to replace the dairy. It’s a lot of work, but it brings back great memories and we’re making new ones!” says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD.
6. Cultural traditions stand the test of time
Include your friends and family in your cultural food traditions by including them in your cooking—and eating—during the holidays. “At Thanksgiving and Christmas every year, my family always made spaetzle, a traditional German dish that we all learned to make from my grandmother, who came from Germany. Growing up we looked forward to it every holiday and didn’t realize it wasn’t part of traditional meals at other people’s homes. Even my sisters and I got our friends that we invited over to dinner on holidays. I will proudly say though that all of our husbands are big fans of spaetzle now,” says Brian McDowell, RD and owner Local dietitian.
7. Spread the love
Now is the time to sit back, relax and enjoy! “My favorite holiday tradition was gathering at my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve every year. She is the one who taught me to love and appreciate food. Every year she had an incredible spread, mostly the Italian tradition of not eating meat on Christmas Eve. It was the hottest day of the year.” Magic to me.”We are all together, mainly in the kitchen, surrounded by love and great food,” says Jenny S Manseau, RD, CC.
For more of my favorite traditional vegan holiday recipes, check out:
Swedish beetroot, potato and apple salad
Freekeh scrambled with mustard greens
Cranberry Oats Pilaf With Pistachio
broccoli or gratin
Swedish saffron rolls
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