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Brooke Burke’s Favorite Holiday Food Healthy Substitutes

Making mindful choices, especially during the holidays, is easier than you might think. It only takes a little planning and some minor adjustments – from drinks and dressings to sides and main dishes – to stay on track! Plus, including better options and incorporating healthy substitutes, makes it easier for everyone to navigate get togethers without overindulging.

Tequila Pick-Me-Up

When it comes to celebratory cocktails, it’s the mixers that make mixed drinks veer into unhealthy territory. Flavored spirits and fresh lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice are a better substitute. I especially love grapefruit because of its naturally euphoric qualities.


1/3 cup freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice

1 oz silver tequila

1 cup crushed ice

coarse sea salt for rim

grapefruit slice for garnish


Salt the rim of a rocks glass with coarse sea salt and fill it with crushed ice.

Add the tequila and grapefruit juice.

Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

Serve and enjoy!

French Dijon Shallot Dressing

A colorful salad or fresh veggie tray is pretty much a given at any holiday party or celebration, but most store-bought dressings are really high in sugar content. This is one of my very favorite family recipes and it makes a deliciously healthy substitute for sugary salad dressings or veggie dips.


1 cup of olive oil

1/4 cup of white vinegar (I also highly recommend tarragon vinegar!)

1/2 shallot, chopped

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt


Blend all the ingredients together. 

Serve and enjoy!

Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

Mashed potatoes are a family favorite holiday food, but the empty carbs could definitely do with a healthy upgrade. I love this whipped cauliflower recipe because it’s super easy to make and the cauliflower’s subtle natural flavor adds a buttery and almost brothy note. I actually prefer the taste to regular mashed potatoes.


1 lg head of cauliflower

butter substitute spray

garlic salt


Cut one large head of cauliflower into florets, place them into a Ziploc bag, and punch holes in the outside.

Put the bag of cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 9 minutes.

Cut a hole in the bottom of the bag to drain any excess moisture.

Spray the cauliflower with the butter substitute spray and add garlic salt, to taste.

Blend in a food processor until smooth.

Serve and enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

In some places, lasagna is a celebratory dish, but it’s also a great family-size meal for when the house is full during the holidays. The healthy substitution of spaghetti squash for lasagna noodles adds a fresh lightness that keeps the meat and cheese from being too heavy and elevates the entire recipe.


2 spaghetti squash

1 lbs lean ground beef or ground turkey

1 can San Remo tomatoes

8 slices mozzarella cheese

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbsp ghee or butter

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups basil, chopped 

2 cups spinach, chopped

salt & pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.

Place face down in a baking pan in 2 tbsp of water and bake for 30 minutes.

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil and ghee until soft.

Add lean ground beef/ground turkey and sauté over medium heat until brown.

Add can of blended San Remo tomatoes, chopped basil, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon meat sauce into squash cavity.

Sprinkle with chopped raw spinach and then add a layer of mozzarella.

Add more meat sauce.

Finish with cheese for creamy texture and crispy edges.

Return to oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Serve and enjoy!

Dry-Brined Turkey

While I do recommend turkey over ham (especially the ones cured with honey or sugar), turkey is still a pretty traditional dish for the holidays, so I suppose this isn’t technically a substitution. But it is one of my family’s favorite healthy recipes, and it turns out juicy and delicious every time.

Keep in mind that this recipe requires a little advance prep and an ice chest with ice, so plan accordingly. 



dry brine

olive oil

garlic, chopped

whole onion, chopped


Three days prior to Thanksgiving, rub the turkey first with olive oil and then with the dry brine.

Cover the turkey with plastic wrap and place it in an ice chest, fill it with ice, and let it marinate for three days.

When ready to cook, unwrap the turkey, and give it a quick rinse to remove the super salty brine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stuff the cavity with chopped garlic and onion.

Massage some olive oil into the turkey skin and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake as usual, basting as you go. (Roughly 4 hours.)

Serve and enjoy!

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