Don’t shun fat during the holidays, but eat wisely

Seasonal dieting often doesn't last, says Harborview Medical Center nutritionist Natalia Groat. 

First things first, says Natalia Groat, a UW Medicine clinical nutritionist. Don’t go on a diet during the holidays.

“I would avoid diets,” said Groat, who works at Harborview Medical Center. “They always seem to backfire in the end. You always go back to what you were eating and you may even overindulge at first and erase all the good work you were doing before.”

For the holidays, Groat suggests indulging a bit, and choosing what is truly good, rather than grazing mindlessly through buffets and party spreads.

“My advice is to think about how you’re going to feel later,” before diving into the meal or party fare, she said. “If you think you’re going to have a tummy ache or be down on the couch for a nap if you continue, slow down a bit. Think about the foods you really enjoy and avoid those you don’t like as much.”

And don’t eschew the fat.

“I think it’s OK to use full fat products – and you don’t have to use a lot to bring out a lot of flavor.”

Groat uses whole milk, butter, and whole yogurts in these recipes. She recommends staying away from hydrogenated fats found in processed foods. Below are a few healthful yet tasty holiday recipes.

For reporters and editors, here are links to video soundbites and YouTube clips of Groat preparing and discussing holiday food.

For more information about this item, or to speak with Natalia Groat, please contact Barbara Clements at or 206.221.6706.


Garlicy sweet potato mash (from

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. full fat sour cream*
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Boil sweet potatoes until tender. Melt butter and garlic together until golden. Mash potatoes, then combine the butter/garlic mixture and rest of the ingredients until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Creamy dill sauce (from

  • 1.5 cups of Greek yogurt*
  • 1/2 cup of full fat sour cream*
  • 3 tbsp. chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. of lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • Combine all ingredients and chill. Make your own chips by cutting up pita bread and baking the “chips” until golden.

Slow-cooker poached pears, with vanilla (from

In a slow cooker combine:

  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Zest from orange
  • 1 cups fine sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks *
  • 2 vanilla beans split
  • 6 ripe but firm pears
  • Cook for 4-5 hours in slow cooker, remove pears and serve with whipped cream or reduce one cup of wine mixture and drizzle over pears. One can also simmer the pears with the mixture in a pot for about 30 minutes.
  • Whipped cream*
  • 8 oz. of whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

*Natalia Groat modified these ingredients from the original recipe.

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