Healthy Holiday Habits

For those of us who are fortunate enough to be near family, spending time with our loved ones is the best aspect of the holiday season. Love, laughter, and food often abound. Despite our best intentions, many of us find it difficult to prioritize healthy eating. Fabulous holiday spreads and cookie exchanges have led to many a downfall.

Fortunately there are easy things we can do to inject some tasty, inexpensive nourishment into our holiday routine. The JLDOC’s Taste of Tobacco Road offers several options. The Cookbook Committee recommends its Festive Fall Salad (page 93) to help celebrate the season and fuel our bodies at the same time.


Butternut squash is high in potassium (good for your heart and blood), dietary fiber (help that digestion), and vitamin A (essential for eye health and bone growth). This simple recipe is sure to please the family, and you can feel good about giving your immune systems a boost!

Festive Fall Salad


  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 5 ounces mixed green lettuces


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or liquid coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (potential alternatives: dried rosemary, basil, or oregano)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the Salad, toss the squash with a small amount of oil to coat in a bowl. Spread on a roasting pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, tossing occasionally. Allow to cool.



For the Tarragon Vinaigrette, combine the oil, vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.

Combine squash with the pomegranate seeds, goat cheese and lettuces in a large bowl. Add the Tarragon Vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.




  • A small-to-medium sized butternut squash will yield approximately 2 cups of cubed flesh. A large squash (like the one pictured) will yield closer to 4 cups or more. You can store the extra squash in a covered container the refrigerator for up to a week. Put it in other salads or heat it up and top it with a fried egg for a warm breakfast.
  • If you have access to fresh pomegranates, you can click here to learn how to peel one.
  • You can double or triple the salad dressing recipe to have something tasty on-hand for later. Mix it well and store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Other possible substitutions:

  • You can use dried cranberries or raisins if pomegranate seeds are not available. I had leftover currants from Thanksgiving. They weren’t as pretty as pomegranate seeds, but they were tasty.
  • If goat cheese isn’t your thing (it isn’t everyone’s), a mild feta or farmer cheese would also be nice.
  • Any tender salad green will work: baby spinach, Swiss chard, etc. If you are using a tougher salad green, such as Tuscan or Red Russian kale, slice it very thinly (the fancy term is “chiffonade”), toss it with half of the vinaigrette and let stand for 5-10 minutes before adding the other salad items. The vinegar will tenderize the greens.
  • Dried basil, oregano, or rosemary will do in a pinch if you don’t have dried tarragon.

Proceeds from Taste of Tobacco Road sales help support the JLDOC mission to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women, and improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.