The holidays are upon us, and soon kitchens across the country will be busy cooking up festive foods that pack a heady mix of nostalgia and tradition. Families will indulge in aromatic treats that delight not just the palate, but also other senses. Social media will be abuzz with pictures of celebration food. If you or your senior has medical issues, like diabetes or obesity, this might be a good time to find some new, healthier favorites that will satisfy cravings for holiday treats. 

5 Naturally Sweet Food Options That Are Nutrient Dense

When you live in a continuing care retirement community, your dieticians know just what you need during the holidays and all year long. Instead of reaching for traditional sugary treats during the holiday season, opt for foods that are high in nutrients and will keep you satisfied longer:

  1. Pomegranate: The vibrant, deep red color of this fruit makes it visually tempting and the fleshy, juicy seeds make delicious toppings on yogurt, oatmeal, and salads.
  2. Apples: The variety of apples available through fall is so diverse that you are sure to find your favorites. Choose sweet ones to eat alone or dipped in almond or peanut butter. If you like the tart flavors, they taste great in oatmeal, salads, and sandwiches. You can also make some chewy apple crisps to snack on. A dehydrator works great but you can also do this in the oven.   
  3. Grapefruit: Enjoy this citrus fruit by itself or added to a dish. It has a sweet and sour flavor to give your taste buds a whirlwind of fun. Please keep in mind that grapefruit juice may interact with some medications, so check before indulging in this fruity treat.
  4. Carrots: Eat them raw or cooked in soups, spaghetti, bread, muffins, and salads. They are crunchy, delightfully colorful and help your body fight disease.
  5. Sweet Potatoes: Another orange food that is sweet and loaded with fiber, sweet potatoes are also low on the glycemic index. Enjoy them baked, mashed, or oven roasted.

Holiday Snacks & a Recipe for the Festive Season 

No longer should you have to worry about an expanding waistline through the holidays. Have fun, enjoy your food and treats, but stay healthy. Try some of these snack ideas:

  • Baked apple chips – sprinkle with cinnamon for added flavor.
  • Hummus with carrots and cucumber slices – try a beet hummus; it’s tasty and looks lovely.
  • Unsweetened almond or cashew milk – try adding a hint of vanilla or peppermint essence for that unmistakable holiday aroma!  
  • Hardboiled egg – soak the peeled eggs in a solution of red wine and low-sodium soy sauce to get a gorgeous, festive color.
  • Avocado on whole wheat toast – sprinkle some hemp hearts and sesame seeds for a nutty flavor that also adds protein to your plate.
  • Orange slices dipped in dark chocolate – you can try a sugar-free chocolate too.

Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash

For a new holiday dish this year, try this acorn squash recipe from Cookie & Kate. This vegetarian stuffed acorn squash recipe is delicious and looks beautiful on your holiday meal table. The cheesy quinoa filling develops an irresistible crispy top in the oven. Make it for your holiday dinner or serve it on a relaxed weeknight at home. Recipe yields 4 stuffed squash halves.


2 medium acorn squash

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided

½ cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup water

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

¼ cup chopped green onion

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
  2. To prepare the squash, use a sharp chef’s knife to slice through it from the tip to the stem. You will find it easiest to pierce the squash in the center along a depression line, cut through the tip, and finish by slicing through the top portion next to the stem. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits inside, and discard those pieces.
  3. Place the squash halves cut side up on the parchment-lined pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the squash, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Rub the oil into the cut sides of the squash, then turn them over so the cut sides are against the pan. Bake until the squash flesh is easily pierced through by a fork, about 30 to 45 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until all the water is absorbed, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cranberries. Cover, and let the mixture steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  5. In a medium skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pepitas are turning golden on the edges and making little popping noises, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
  6. Pour the fluffed quinoa mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Add the toasted pepitas, chopped green onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.
  7. If the mixture is very hot, let it cool for a few minutes before adding the Parmesan cheese and goat cheese. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
  8. Turn the cooked squash halves over so the cut sides are facing up. Divide the mixture evenly between the squash halves with a large spoon. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the cheesy quinoa turns golden on top.
  9. Sprinkle the stuffed squash with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and serve warm.

Enjoy Delicious Meals This Holiday Season with Wesley Enhanced Living

Find new healthier foods to eat this holiday season. The team at Wesley Enhanced Living understands the needs of our residents. We strive to ensure you have what you require. From a safe campus and well-maintained grounds to sanitized buildings and nutritious foods, we work hard every day for you. If you are thinking about moving to a retirement community, consider our different living options, such as independent living, personal care, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing. Give us a call to learn more!

We provide high-quality senior retirement communities for you or your loved ones.  Contact one of our Philadelphia area locations and find out why our seniors love where they live. Our staff is happy to discuss your elder’s needs or your own and inform you of our range of services. Virtual tours are now available. Call us today for more information!