Naturally Thin Tips For Holiday Dinners

The holidays shouldn’t be stressful, at least where cooking is concerned. You can make impressive meals for your holiday guests without spending the whole day in the kitchen. The key to making a big meal with many elements is to prepare ahead. Make your appetizers, side dishes and desserts in advance to help you eliminate stress and focus on your main dish.

Here are a few make-ahead dishes that I like to serve.


Stimulate appetites and put people in the mood to celebrate with delicious and beautiful appetizers that won’t spoil everyone’s appetite for dinner.

– Wooden cutting boards with different cheeses. Be sure to label them. I like baby mozzarella, feta, and brie but choose your favorites. Add grapes, pears, or apples and bread slices or good quality whole-grain crackers.

– A platter of crudites such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and a dip such as hummus, baba ghanoush, pesto, tapenade, or a mixture of half low-fat ranch dressing and half vinaigrette.


For an easy holiday meal, spend your time prepping a few more time-consuming dishes, then round out the meal with easy side dishes that come together in minutes.

– Roasted vegetables with salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice.

– Sweet potato puree, defrosted frozen butternut squash puree, or baked sweet potatoes. Heat and season with cinnamon, real maple syrup, or brown sugar, butter and a little salt.

– Bread with homemade flavored butters. Divide a stick of butter between three or four bowls and let it soften at room temperature, then mix different ingredients into each: tapenade or chopped olives with olive bread, pesto with sourdough, chopped sun-dried tomatoes with whole-grain, or anything else that inspires you. Serve in ramekins.


Finally, have a tray of easy but impressive desserts.

– Crushed fruit in red wine glasses tossed with almond extract, sugar, and lemon juice topped with whipped cream.

– A platter of cookies or ice-cream cookie sandwiches made with low-fat ice cream or frosting.

– A platter of brownies or petit fours.

– Or, make things even easier on yourself and suggest that your guests bring a dessert.

This is an excerpt from Bethenny Frankel’s Naturally Thin: Unleash Your Skinnygirl, available on