5 Good Carbs You Should Be Eating This Holiday Season

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I'm a Certified Health Coach, longtime blogger, and host of The Elizabeth Rider Show. In addition to writing recipes (I love to eat!), I believe that embracing your personal evolution and taking responsibility for your happiness are the keys to living a fulfilling life.


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sweet potato appetizer

Carbohydrates have gotten a really bad rap in the past decade. So bad, in fact, that some people think that you should avoid them altogether, which is a big fat lie.

Your brain and body need carbs to function properly, feel happy and give you energy. Without carbs, people end to feel depressed, anxious, and lethargic.

The problem arises when we eat the wrong kind of carbs – you know, the white, highly processed ones like bread, chips, crackers and tortillas. The key is to be mindful and consume only unprocessed, whole carbohydrates. It’s also important to pay attention to serving sizes – usually 1/2 cup, not 3 cups like the restaurant serves.

Each of the five things listed below have one big thing in common – fiber. Carbs without fiber are dangerous as they spike your blood sugar out of control, send you into a hunger spiral, and cause you to overeat.

Carbs are abound during the holiday season and overindulging in the wrong-kind will leave you puffy, bloated and feeling ill. But not to worry! There are some good ones out there that you can serve at any holiday meal or party.

Here are 5 Good Carbs You Should Be Eating This Holiday Season:

1. Quinoa

A superfood that’s a grain-like seed that can be used in place of rice and added to any dish to give texture and extra nutrients.

2. Spaghetti Squash

This delicious winter squash can actually be turned into spaghetti-like “noodles” for just about any pasta dish – I actually like it better than regular old noodles. Cut it in half lengthwise, drizzle the inside with olive oil and bake cut-side down for 30-45 minutes at 350. Once cooled use a fork to scrape the “noodles” (scrape lengthwise).

3. Sweet Potatoes

Unlike regular white potatoes, sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index. They’re delicious roasted or mashed, and are also chock-full of nutrients and fiber.

4. Dates

These sweet little treats are loaded with antioxidants, and make a lovely sweetener when blended into a paste. You can also use them whole – try the goat cheese stuffed dates with almonds that my friend Ann taught me how to make (recipe below) – they’re my FAVORITE holiday appetizer.

5. Whole Oats

Either steel cut or whole-rolled, oats are full of good stuff and make an excellent addition to cookies and casseroles. Grind them yourself in a food processor to make your own oat flour, or add them whole to just about anything. My oat Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Cookie recipe is one of the most popular on my blog.

Just avoid “instant” or “quick” oats – they remove the fiber (good stuff) to make them cook faster. Also, I’m talking about plain, whole oats here, not the kind with sugar-added and clever marketing to make you think they’re healthy.

Bonus Recipe:

Elegant Date Appetizers with Goat Cheese and Almonds

Makes 24

The flavors of fresh figs (or dates, or dried figs), tangy goat cheese, salty almonds, sweet honey, and balsamic vinegar contrast to make these a delicious and very pretty appetizer. Arrange figs in a circle, tops facing in, for a flower effect. We like making them with fresh figs or dates, both are equally delicious.


  • 12 fresh dates, halved lengthwise, pits discarded
  • 4 ounces goat cheese (aka chevre)
  • 24 roasted, salted almonds
  • 2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Recipe: Preheat the oven broiler for high heat. Place the date halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Top each half with about 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese. Place one almond on each, press to push the cheese slightly into each fig.

Broil the figs in the preheated oven until the cheese is soft and the almonds are turning a rich shade of brown, 2 to 3 minutes (watch them very carefully b/c the will burn easily – they should not be charred, just warmed.) Remove from the broiler and let cool for 5 minutes. Arrange the figs/dates on a serving platter and drizzle balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or room temp.



Read the Comments +

  1. Daisy Louise says:

    I have a question about Oats. I have been getting the big box of instant Oats for at work for what I thought was a healthy, quick, delicious snack. After reading what you posted about the fiber being removed from instant oats it makes me question my snack. Is it that instant oats are part of the bad carbs, or is it just that non-instant oats are just better for you and both are good choices? Because I don’t have time to cook oats every break.

  2. stevetheowl says:

    Great post, Elizabeth! It is amazing how many people think that carbohydrates are pure evil. As a distance runner, I know that my running would be miserable if I ever tried any low-carb diet. Heck, for that matter, when I used a meal replacement that was high-protein and only about 25% carbs before I ran, I would get exhausted. Carbs are good for you.

  3. This looks so good, I’ll be trying this for the holidays!

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Hi, I'm Elizabeth

I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life. 

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