Healthy food choices for the holidays

Thursday, December 13, 2018

By: Jeff Ash

Making healthy choices is a must for people with vascular issues. Doing so during the holiday season – when there are many food-related temptations – is especially important.


“At family gatherings with food, look at ALL of the food options and think about what you are going to have before you put anything on your plate. Decide which foods are worth eating and which can be ignored, and then stick to that decision,” says Deb Ruebbelke, a diabetes educator and certified dietitian at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay.


One more tip: “Taking a brisk walk after a meal is important to keeping on track,” Ruebbelke says.


To make the season lighter, Ruebbelke shares two heart-healthy recipes that offer smart alternatives to heavy holiday spreads.


They’re great when combined for a light soup-and-salad meal, or they can be enjoyed separately.


Healthy bowl of soup


Turkey and Barley Soup


“Soups are an easy way to use leftovers and incorporate more vegetables into your meal plan,” Ruebbelke says.


This recipe does both, using leftover turkey and complementing it with celery, mushrooms, carrots and onions.


Makes 5 servings that are 2 cups each.




1½ cups celery (diced)

8 ounces mushrooms (sliced)

1½ cups carrots (diced)

1 medium onion (peeled and diced)

Liquids and oils

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups water


½ cup quick-cooking barley


1½ cups of cooked turkey breast (shredded or diced)


½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic



Place a soup kettle on medium-high heat and immediately add olive oil. Add all produce to the kettle. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until onions start to turn clear. Add barley, broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add turkey. Season with spices. Cook until turkey is heated, then serve.


Green salad with pears, bleu cheese and pecans.

Green Salad with Pears, Bleu Cheese and Pecans


“Eating salads is an excellent choice as a side dish to fill you up,” Ruebbelke says. “Salads made with vegetables are low in calories, carbohydrates and high in fiber.”


Makes 4 servings that are 1 cup each.


Salad ingredients


2 barely ripe pears (sliced)

1 bag bib lettuce or green salad mix

Nuts and seeds

½ cup pecans (chopped) (toast pecans if desired)


4 ounces bleu cheese crumbles


Dressing ingredients


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon salt



Mix condiments and spices to make dressing. Add salad ingredients to a bowl and toss with dressing.

© 2020 BayCare Clinic.

All Rights Reserved.

BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.