It’s upon us once again: that time of year when every house visit is accompanied by an aluminum foil-covered side dish, dessert, or appetizer. I like to call this time of year “Foodie Season”; conversations revolve around the best way to roast a joint of meat, the smell of cinnamon and cloves fills the air, and stretch-waisted pants seem to form a staple part of my winter wardrobe. I set out with good intentions, however, I’m a sucker for sides and always seem to end up piling my plate with more food than I need.

But, if you’re anything like me, I have some good news for you. This year, you can release a little of that eater’s remorse because some of your favorite holiday foods actually have the most amazing benefits.

Brussels Sprouts

Don’t be fooled by their size: these mini cabbage-like greens are a powerhouse of good things. Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, just one cup can provide you with your recommended daily dose of vitamins C and K, and contribute to your daily intake of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. They’re also classified as a low-glycemic food, so can support weight loss and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Cranberries

No festive meal is complete without a jar of cranberry sauce on the table, but there’s more to that dish of tart tastiness than meets the eye. Cranberries are full of fiber and high in vitamin C—great to combat those winter colds! They’re also loaded with antioxidants that specifically support your system against urinary tract infections.

 

Gingerbread

Okay, so maybe gingerbread is pushing it a little—but there’s no denying that deliciously warming ginger is good for you. It’s rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants, helps to regulate insulin levels and maintain a healthy metabolism, and is also a long-practiced cure for nausea and upset stomachs—which may be extremely handy after those huge, festive meals!

 

Green Beans

I always raise my hand to be in charge of a green bean casserole, and after finding out how good green beans are for you, I’ll be making double portions! A good source of anti-oxidants and packed full of vitamins and minerals—including vitamin C, potassium, iron, and zinc—green beans are also a great source of fiber and protein.

 

Apple Cider

So, apple cider as a drink is a great source of potassium and iron. But, if we stretch it to apple cider vinegar, you have a whole other world of health benefits. Not quite suitable for a hot toddy or chilled over ice (it’s vinegar, let’s not forget!), apple cider vinegar is a potent fix-all. It lowers blood sugar levels, kills harmful bacteria, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer which helps with weight loss and burning belly fat—maybe one to save for after all the indulging!

 

Pecans

My favorite treat when the weather turns colder is a big slice of warm pecan pie and a scoop of ice cream. And pecans not only taste super, but they’re also a superfood! Heart healthy and full of fiber to help satiate appetite, pecans help boost immunity and have incredible anti-inflammatory effects, thanks to their high magnesium content. And that’s not all—pecans help you glow on the outside, too. Great for skin and hair, the anti-aging properties in pecans will certainly have me super-sizing my slice of pie!

 

So, while my festive season culinary choices won’t be entirely guilt free, I know for sure that I’ll feel a little less bad when I hold my plate out for seconds … or thirds. And you should too! And if anyone raises an eyebrow, just inform them that you’re merely making sure you meet your daily recommended allowance of all those vitamins and minerals. In fact, you could call it being conscientious.