Healthy Holiday Eating: Salads, Dips and Spreads

Leading up to the holidays, meal preparation often becomes challenging. It’s a great time to work on cleaning out the pantry, cooking simply, and most importantly trying to keep it healthy. The holidays are full of food and dessert items which often grace our presence only once a year! There are plenty of easy ways to mix up meal preparation to provide extra nutrition and salads are a great way to do that.

I recently did a Facebook Live demonstrating fun ways to alter the typical sandwich grind and many viewers requested the recipe for the avocado tuna. Based on the ingredients I used, I found a version from food blogger The Healthy Maven that is very similar. I love cooking (more than baking) because you can say, “Sure this sounds like something I should add! Throw it in!”

In addition to the avocado tuna recipe, I also wanted to share two others; a spruced-up version of chicken salad and a vegetarian/vegan-friendly chickpea salad created by a friend of mine, Lauren Blake, RD. She authors the blog Whole Living Lauren. Remember, if there is an ingredient you or your family do not particularly care for, leave it out! No harm no foul – make it your own!

Serve any of the below on whole grain bread, in a pita, rolled in a wrap, as a dip with crackers, on a bed of greens, or inside romaine hearts! Instead of avocado or mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt is also an alternative and enhances the protein content. Using avocado adds unique flavor, and a host of healthy, essential, unsaturated fat.

If you have an idea for a Facebook Live please let us know in the comments of this post. Wishing you an abundance of joy, good health, and full bellies this holiday season!

Avocado Tuna Salad

Adopted from: The Healthy Maven Food Blog


  • 2 cans of flaked light tuna
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 red apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped, walnuts
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl, mash up avocado with the back of a fork or potato masher.
  2. Add in tuna, celery, red onion, apple and walnuts. Mix well.
  3. Add in pickle juice, dried dill, dijon, cumin and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Serve on bread, top on salad or eat plain.
  5. Will keep up to 1 week in refrigerator.

Healthy Chickpea “Chicken” Salad

Inspired by and adapted from the “Perfected Chickpea Salad” in the Oh She Glows cookbook via Whole Living Lauren


  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped grapes
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise (or regular mayo)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until flaky in texture.
  2. Stir in the celery, bell pepper, pickle, onion, grapes, mayonnaise, garlic, and dill and stir until combined.
  3. Next, stir in the mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and stir again until combined.
  4. Serve on toasted whole grain bread, on crackers, in a lettuce wrap, or tortilla.
  5. Enjoy!

Perfect Chicken Salad

Adopted from: Wellness Mama


  • 4-5 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 1 cup of grapes, sliced in half
  • ½ to 1 cup plain, full fat yogurt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Sprinkle of pepper


  1. Put chicken, walnuts, celery, grapes, and apple in bowl
  2. Add yogurt, honey, lemon juice and spices
  3. Mix until everything is evenly coated
  4. Serve and enjoy!

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Jessica Buschmann, RD
Jessica Buschmann, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with Nationwide Children’s Sports Medicine. As part of her role at Nationwide Children’s, she provides nutrition services to Ohio Dominican University’s athletic teams and the general student population. She is registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration and licensed by the Ohio Board of Dietetics. Before joining the NCH Sports Medicine team, Jessica completed her Master’s degree at Marywood University in Sports Nutrition and Exercise Science. Jessica’s professional interests include Female Athlete Triad management and prevention, employee wellness, and meal planning for optimal sports performance. Jessica’s personal interests include anything outdoors, running, cooking with friends and family, grocery shopping (especially at Farmer’s Markets!), trying new restaurants around Columbus, spontaneous and planned traveling adventures, skydiving, and reading with a good cup of java in local coffee shops.

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