Serve it up: Healthy dishes for the holidays

By Lucy Probert
Posted 12/10/23

Healthy eating doesn’t have to go by the wayside during the holiday season; keep the rolls and butter-filled mashed potatoes, but add a few dishes packed with both flavor and nutrition.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Register to post events

If you'd like to post an event to our calendar, you can create a free account by clicking here.

Note that free accounts do not have access to our subscriber-only content.

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.

Serve it up: Healthy dishes for the holidays


Healthy eating doesn’t have to go by the wayside during the holiday season; keep the rolls and butter-filled mashed potatoes, but add a few dishes packed with both flavor and nutrition.

Westport-based executive chef Haley Rego started The Holistic Trick about five years ago, offering healthy personalized meal preparation and catering services. With a degree from Johnson & Wales University, she focuses on the benefits of eating whole foods and finding delicious healthy options for meals.

“I’m a huge fan of using fresh herbs, spices from across the globe, healthy fats and components that lend flavor to dishes without the need for significant amounts of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats,” she said.

We asked Haley to put together some recipes to prepare for the upcoming party-packed season. A great way to incorporate healthy options into this otherwise not so healthy eating time of year is focusing on preparing vegetable dishes, she said.

“Vegetables are naturally low in calories but are packed with the micronutrients we need for optimum immunity and other benefits. They’re also loaded with fiber, so you feel fuller faster. Veggies paired with protein are my mainstays.”

Her favorite vegetable is kale, the Tuscan variety specifically. “It has the best flavor and texture and contains an antioxidant which has amazing health benefits. Greens are also naturally high in calcium, iron, vitamins C and A, potassium and fiber. They really are true superfoods.”

Haley recommends being inspired by the array of plant foods that beam with colors of the rainbow and come in different textures any time of the year. “Have fun in the kitchen, play around with meals and make cooking and eating a creative experience,” she said.


Garam Masala Spiced Lamb Chops & Husk Cherry Sauce

Make it a dish with Celery Root Puree, Braised Tuscan Kale, Pomegranate Seeds, & Toasted Pine Nuts 

Celery Root Purée

• 2 lbs.  celeriac, (she used local organic, from Skinny Dip Farm in Little Compton)

• 1/2 cup water

• 1/2 cup milk (she used 2%)

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 tbsp. butter

• Salt and pepper to taste

Carefully clean the celeriac root by peeling it or use a knife to take the rough exterior off to get to the white interior. Cube into 1-inch pieces and add to a small saucepan. Add water and milk to just about cover the cubes. Add the bay leaf. Boil until fork tender, about 15 minutes.

Once tender, drain (reserving the liquid) and add to a food processor or use a pastry masher to puree/mash. Add the butter, salt, pepper to taste, and use just enough of the reserved milk liquid until the mash has a nice smooth consistency. 


Braised Tuscan Kale (or other Greens)

• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• Pinch of crushed red pepper

• 2 bunches Tuscan kale, cleaned, deveined, and roughly chopped, (she used local organic, from Skinny Dip Farm in Little Compton)

• 1/2 cup white wine

• 3/4 cup stock or water

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sized pot turn heat to medium and sauté chopped garlic in oil until fragrant and lightly brown. Add crushed red pepper and then the kale. Stir until kale begins to wilt.

Add white wine, the stock of choice, salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat until the kale wilts down and becomes tender, about 10-15 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper if needed, and drizzle with olive oil before serving. 


Husk Cherry Sauce

• 2 cups husk/ground cherries

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 1 lemon, zested and juice added at the end of cooking

Clean and husk the cherries. Add fruit to a small saucepan with sugar and turn heat to medium high. Stir occasionally until the mixture becomes liquid-like and begins to boil. Reduce heat slightly and bring to a low boil until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 25-30 minutes.

Once slightly thickened, add the lemon zest and juice. If you reduce this too much, add water to desired consistency. Can be enjoyed chilled or warmed as a sauce on just about anything.


Garam Masala Spiced Lamb Chops

• 12-16 small to medium sized lamb chops (she used grass-fed local from BeeBaa Farm in Little Compton)

• 2 tbsp. garam masala spice blend

• 2 tsp. salt and pepper

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 pomegranate, cleaned, seeds set aside for garnish

• 4 tbsp. pine nuts, lightly toasted for garnish.

Season the lamb chops with salt, pepper and garam masala blend. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat (keep the pan hot, but not smoking, for a good sear). Start with the thickest looking chop and add to the pan; continue adding the chops until they are evenly placed but not crowded in the pan.

Cook on the first side for about 3-4 minutes, depending on how large the chops are. Turn and cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes or until a thermometer reads about 130 degrees F. Take the lamb off the heat and let it rest for up to 5 minutes. 

Put the dish all together by starting with 3/4 cup of the celery root puree in the center of the plate, add Tuscan kale to one side of the puree and 3-4 chops to the other side. Drizzle the chops and outside of the dish with husk cherry sauce. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts for color and texture.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email