Dec 1, 2017

How a Nutritionist Avoids Holiday Weight Gain (Without Skipping Dessert)

by Sophie Miura

During the holidays, it can seem like hearty, flavorful meals and healthy dishes exist in different spheres. If you're craving traditional dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes, you've got to put your diet on hold, and if you want to be healthy it means forgoing favorites and opting for salad.

That's exactly the mentality that nutritionist Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, and CLC of Maya Feller Nutrition, and Italian chef Silvia Barban want to change. "Spending the holidays without these main staple dishes can be hard. So why do we need to avoid those meals when we can make them healthier?" says Barban, a Brooklyn-based foodie who starred in Top Chef.

The duo has teamed up to pen a cookbook in 2018, marrying Feller's expertise in weight management and nutrition and Barban's knack for flavorful Italian cuisine. The result? A collection of delicious recipes that don't elicit next-day guilt, including holiday favorites. "We chose some of the more conventional side dishes and wanted to offer up alternatives that increase the non-starchy vegetable intake, as the average American diet is centered around a high intake of refined grains," Feller says of their go-to holiday side dishes below.

It's possible to cook flavorful, healthy holiday sides. Keep scrolling to find out how.


Jose Leon for MyDomaine


1 Yucca big size
1 cup of shaved brussels sprouts
2 tbsp. fresh cranberry
4 tbsp. toasted walnuts
1 tsp. garlic chopped
2 tbsp. parsley
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. chives
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper to taste


Peel the yucca and boil in 5 cups vegetable stock until it gets soft, taking out the hard center part and discard, remove yucca from vegetable stock, and set the stock aside for next step.

Sauté the cranberry in a pan on low heat with garlic, olive oil, and vegetable stock cooked down until cranberries are soft.

Mash yucca with a fork, and then incorporate the brussels sprouts, cranberry compote, vinegar, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and black pepper

Serve warm in a bowl, and finish with chopped and toasted walnuts and chives.

Williams Sonoma Bay Stripe Apron ($30)


5 cups red potatoes
5 cups celery root or celery stalks
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 piece peeled shallot
1 bunch thyme
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper to taste


Wash potatoes and celery root. Peel and dice the celery root and potatoes.

Roast the shallots in a pan slowly, and then add the potatoes and celery root with half the vegetable stock. Cook until soft, trying to not to add more liquid and leaving all the flavor in there.

When cooked down and almost dry, mash the vegetables with a whisk or with mashing utensil, and then add olive oil, salt, and pepper. If there are still chunks, you can blend half of it to make it creamier. Serve with some fresh thyme, crushed black pepper, or even a mixed pepper blend.

Anthropologie Piedra Bowl ($16)


10 oz. whole wheat pasta
6 cup rainbow cauliflower cut into pieces
4 tsp. garlic
8 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped toasted walnuts
4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper


Roast cauliflower with garlic and 4 tablespoons olive oil at 300°F for 20 minutes. Puree 3/4 cauliflower in a blender until smooth. Rough chop remainder of cauliflower.

Bring water to boil. Cook the pasta al dente, drain from water, and mix with cauliflower purée and larger chunks.

Put mixture into cast-iron pan and cook in oven on 300°F for 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Cost Plus World Market Rustic Olive Wood Cutting Board ($35)

Looking for more recipe inspiration? Start with this anti-inflammatory side.