4 Easy and Healthy Holiday Recipes for SeniorsBrandermill Woods independent living angle

4 Easy and Healthy Holiday Recipes for Seniors

Monday, December 18, 2023

Holiday get-togethers are a fun way to see family and connect with friends. At Brandermill Woods, you have even more to look forward to, since independent living in the community means you can make your entire holiday meal from scratch or let the kitchen staff handle things. Food often takes center stage during holiday celebrations. Stunning cuts of meat prepared to perfection, glistening gravies, mounds of mashed potatoes, and other dishes can turn the dining room table into a smorgasbord of nibbles that might not be what your dietitian recommends. Here are a few easy, healthy, and delicious options you can add to the holiday feast. Most require six ingredients or less, so you don't need to worry about missing the party due to food prep. 

Goat Cheese Grape Bites

Take a traditional fruit-and-cheese plate, and combine the flavors into one sublime mouthful with these goat cheese grape bites. Every serving is chock-full of antioxidants, vitamins, and protein, so it's a guilt-free appetizer you can feel good about sharing. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to put together, so it's quick and delicious. 


  • Grapes (your favorite variety)
  • 1 pound soft goat cheese 
  • 1/3 cup shelled hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • Liquid honey


  1. Take the grapes off the stems, wash, and pat dry. 
  2. Chop hazelnuts and pistachios separately. Leave some larger pieces for texture. If using a food processor, pulse a few times to achieve the desired consistency.
  3. Cover each grape in a thin layer of goat cheese.
  4. Drizzle honey on top of the cheese, and roll the ball through either the hazelnuts or pistachios.
  5. Slice each ball in half, and refrigerate until serving. 

As an added bit of fun, you can snack on these as you assemble them, so you don't get too hungry while waiting for the fun. 

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Get a healthy serving of fiber and plenty of beta carotene, vitamin B6, and magnesium with this delicious update on a holiday classic — mashed potatoes. It only takes six ingredients and can be ready in just 15 minutes, depending on how fast you can peel potatoes and the number of people you're celebrating with this holiday season. This basic recipe serves four. 


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black or white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Peel the sweet potato, and cut it into small cubes.
  2. Bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil in a pot with a steamer insert and tight-fitting lid. 
  3. When the water starts to steam, add the sweet potato chunks, and steam until fork tender — typically 4-5 minutes. 
  4. Drain the sweet potatoes, discard the water, and put the sweet potatoes back into the pot. 
  5. Add the remaining ingredients. 
  6. Whip the sweet potatoes, butter, and seasonings until smooth. You can use a hand mixer, potato masher, or ricer to achieve a fluffy, soft texture. 

Healthy Peanut Butter Blossoms

If the combination of a Hershey's Kiss and a classic peanut butter cookie gets you excited for the holidays, what about a healthier version that tastes just as great? Whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, and natural peanut butter make these classic cookies a healthier choice without sacrificing taste. 


  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 24 chocolate Kisses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper or baking spray. 
  2. Combine the sugar, butter, and peanut butter in a bowl, and beat until fluffy and well combined.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix at low speed.
  4. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl, and slowly add the mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix well. 
  5. Form the dough into 1-inch balls, and place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes before baking to reduce spread. 
  6. Place cookies in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. While cookies bake, unwrap the Kisses of your choice. Milk, dark, caramel, and other chocolate flavors are available during the holiday season. 
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven, and put a Kiss gently into the center of each cookie.

Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

This recipe focuses on lean protein with only six ingredients to create a delicious main course offering. A whole bird makes a great centerpiece for any holiday meal, and this recipe goes into the oven in minutes, giving you more time to enjoy appetizers while dinner finishes cooking. 


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 1/2 bunch rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a roasting pan or a baking sheet with a roasting rack on top.
  2. Pat chicken dry after removing the giblets. Tuck the wings under to avoid over-browning.
  3. Rub the chicken with the softened butter, including under the skin. Place the lemon and herbs inside the cavity to act as aromatics, and generously season the outside of the bird with salt and pepper. 
  4. Tie the chicken legs together with twine, and trim any excess.
  5. Place the chicken in the roasting pan uncovered, and cook for 35-40 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue roasting until the bird reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  6. Rest the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. (It goes well with a side of those rosemary and garlic mashed sweet potatoes!)

If you don't want to spend your holiday time in the kitchen, Brandermill Woods can handle the catering for you. Our kitchen always serves delicious, nutritious meals and snacks, and we're happy to schedule get-togethers for and with our community members. Call (804) 744-1173 today to schedule a tour or tasting!