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Fertility Friendly Holiday Recipes!

by Margaret Eich MS, RDN & Elizabeth DeAvilla RDN

The holidays can be an especially challenging time for eating healthy. It’s easy to get off track even with the best of intentions when we’re constantly surrounded by sweets. We created this recipe packet to help you have some healthy go-to sides, desserts, and beverages to help you continue to eat nourishing and also delicious food during this time of year. All recipes are gluten free and dairy free or have a dairy free option. Before you dive into the recipes, here are a few tips to help you enjoy the holidays while still enjoying the foods you love:

  • Focus on adding instead of taking away. Instead of focusing on cutting back on sweets or on deprivation, focus on adding. For example, eating fruit after lunch and dinner would be a great habit to focus on, or filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. When we add in lots of healthy foods, it’s helps to crowd out some of the less healthy stuff.


  • Have other “treats” that are unique to the season like citrus and pomegranates or walnuts or hazelnuts in the shell. These are fun treats that are nutrient dense and delicious. Of course, you’ll still have some other real treats, but swapping these in some of time helps.


  • Choose some lower sugar options. Sweets and desserts are meant to be indulgent, so I don’t recommend “healthy” sweets that are modified so much that they don’t feel satisfying. Even cutting the sugar by a third or half in many recipes still results in a delicious and indulgent treat. Try making treats with fruits like dates and bananas, which are whole fruits with fiber and nutrients and can help cut the amount of sugar/sweetener you need to add. Cocoa Coconut Balls in this packet are a great example!


  • Use nuts and nut “flours.” Nuts contain healthy fat and are nutrient dense and provide your treat with flavor and the feeling of decadence without the refined carbs in white flour.


  • Focus on the treats you really love and forget the rest. You don’t have to try everything, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a polite “no thank you,” when offered a dessert or drink you’d rather skip.


  • Rethink your drink. Instead of overdoing it with pumpkin spice or gingerbread lattes or heavily sweetened hot chocolate, make your own at home. Combine warm milk or almond or flax milk, cocoa powder and/or cinnamon, vanilla, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Better yet, buy a milk frother to make your homemade beverage really feel like a treat! See the Healthier Hot Chocolate recipe.


Table of Contents

Side Dishes

Cooked red cabbage with apples

Red cabbage slaw with pecans

Roasted root vegetables

Black bean dip

Roasted cauliflower


Cocoa coconut balls

Broiled grapefruit

Candied pecans


Healthier hot chocolate

Peppermint nettle tea

Side Dishes

Cooked Red Cabbage with Apples

This antioxidant-rich dish and is a great accompaniment to a holiday meal or just an easy side dish to reheat along with the protein you’re having during the week. Cabbage is fiber-rich and is in the fertility-friendly cruciferous vegetable family.

Serves 6

1 small head (or 1/2 larger head) of red cabbage
3 medium apples
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Cut red cabbage in half and remove the core. Coarsely chop and place into a large pot. Peel, core, and slice apples, dice onions, and add to pot along with cabbage. Stir to mix with a wooden spoon. Add apple cider vinegar and water. Heat over medium heat with cover on the pot until you hear the liquid boiling – about 5 minutes.  Turn heat to simmer, and cook for 1 hour or until vegetables are cooked down and soft. Enjoy!

Red Cabbage Slaw with Pecans

The gentle sweetness of the pecans nicely balances the flavor of the red cabbage. This is a great salad to make on Sunday and eat throughout the week. It’s also great for parties and potlucks. Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in indole-3-carbinol, which may have a beneficial effect on hormone balance. Cruciferous vegetables are especially beneficial if you struggle with estrogen dominance, endometriosis, PCOS, or fibroids.

3/4 cup candied pecans (see recipe below)

1/2 medium head or 1 small head of red cabbage
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil

Make the candied pecans first following the recipe below. While the pecans are cooling, cut the core out of the red cabbage and shred using the food processor shred attachment. You can also finely chop my hand. Finely chop the pecans, and add to the cabbage and stir until evenly distributed. Add lemon juice and olive oil, and stir until cabbage is coated with dressing. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Roasted Root Vegetables
Serves 6-8

This nutrient-rich side is loaded with beta-carotene, which is a vitamin A precursor and potent antioxidant. Butternut squash and carrots are also a good sources of vitamin E.

½ onion, chopped
2 medium-sized beets, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Herbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add all vegetables to 9×13-inch pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and your favorite fresh or dried herbs, if desired. Roast for about 45 minutes, tossing every 10 to 15 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.

Black Bean Dip
Adapted from “Hurry-up Black Bean Dip” on

Use this flavorful dip for vegetables, or spread on whole grain or nut-based crackers. Black beans are rich in folate, which helps prevent neural tube defects.

15-oz. can of black beans (preferably organic beans in BPA-free cans), drained
1 tablespoon onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon minced chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Cauliflower

Adapted from Herbs and spices contain potent antioxidants that may help protect eggs and sperm from free radical damage. This dish is also a great way to load up the holiday table with non-starchy vegetables. Emphasizing vegetables is a great way to optimize digestion and gut health.

14 cup butter, softened, or ghee, or olive oil
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
12 teaspon ground cumin
14 teaspoon sea salt
14 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 head (large) cauliflower, leaves trimmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix butter, ghee, or olive oil, dill, garlic, lemon zest, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Cut the cauliflower stem flush with the rest of the head so it stands upright. Spread seasoning mixture evenly over the top and sides of the cauliflower, place in a casserole dish, and cover with foil. Roast cauliflower until tender and cooked through, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer to a platter and spoon any liquid in the casserole dish over the cauliflower.


Cocoa Coconut Balls

These low sugar treats are a great way to keep the added sugar low, while still getting to have a treat. Nuts are a great source of satisfying healthy fats and cocoa powder provides an antioxidant punch!

Makes about 20 one-inch balls

1 cup pecans
cup pitted dates (about 8 deglet noor dates)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients to the food processor or blender, and process for about 30-60 seconds until mixture sticks to the sides of the food processor. Roll into about one-inch balls. Store in the refrigerator.

Broiled Grapefruit
Adapted from Desserts don’t have to be all about sweets. Winter is a great time for citrus, and adding cinnamon to grapefruit provides a warming quality and may help lower blood sugar levels.

Serves 1-2

1 grapefruit
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Turn on oven broiler. Cut grapefruit in half and remove any seeds. Loosen grapefruit sections by using a small knife. First cut between the fruit and peel and then cut alongside each segment to loosen. Sprinkle cinnamon over grapefruit halves, and place under the broiler for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Candied Pecans

Makes ¾ cup candied pecans

1 teaspoon coconut oil
¾ cup raw pecan halves
teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a small pot until melted. Add pecans and stir to coat pecans with coconut oil. Sprinkle salt onto pecans. Add maple syrup, and mix to coat pecans in maple syrup. Immediately remove from heat. (If you leave the pecans on the hot burner, they will likely burn.)


Healthier Hot Chocolate

This easy homemade hot chocolate recipe cuts the sugar from about 12 grams per packet of cocoa mix to 4 grams. This is a great way to keep the caffeine very minimal and still feel like you’re having a beverage that’s a treat. Higher caffeine intake has been associated with longer time to pregnancy among women trying to conceive.

3⁄4 cup water

1⁄2 cup whole milk or non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoons maple syrup

Combine water and milk, and heat until almost boiling in the microwave or on the stove. Stir in cocoa powder and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Peppermint Nettle Tea

Here’s another nourishing caffeine-free tea option.

Dried nettle leaf

Dried peppermint

Mix nettle and peppermint in a glass Mason jar with 1:1 ratio for a supply that will last from weeks to months. Cap tightly and shake to mix. Use about 1 tbsp of tea leaves per cup of tea. Adjust based on flavor preference.

We hope you enjoy these recipes these season! If you want to learn more about how nutrition can aid your journey, call us at: 312-321-0004.