We got the skinny from Lindsay Malone, RD/LD from the Center for Human Nutrition at Cleveland Clinic on how to prepare the healthiest Christmas dinner yet, all the while keeping mouths salivating in anticipation of your fabulous hearty meal. While traditionally holiday meals are a time to overdo it, there is a way to create a tasty and satisfying meal without sabotaging healthy-eating goals.

Be Picky With Your Proteins

Think lean and go with wise choices such as lean chicken, turkey, beef, or even fish. We don’t have to serve turkey just because we’ve been doing it that way every year for the past decade. What’s key is avoiding fried, breaded, smoked, and cured protein sources so you can cut down on fat and sodium amounts. If seeking meat-free alternatives, add seasoned beans or tofu to the menu (hey, this ain’t no 1950s festive feast). Be sure to avoid meat substitutes that are processed because those also tend to have added salt and fat.

Pack In The Produce

Keep your spread fresh, colorful and whole-foods-inspired. When planning a menu try to create one that allows your guests to be able to fill a plate at least half full with non-starchy vegetables. Best bets include dark leafy veggies such as spinach, kale and collard greens, with a rainbow of peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and beets. Skip thick, creamy sauces. Go for blanched, fresh, or steamed instead.

Simple Starches Only

Keep it simple with easy-to-prepare roasted sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa. Runners-up include whole grain breads and pastas. What’s key here are portion sizes. This is where the calories can sneak up on you. A good rule of thumb is to keep starches to one-fourth of your plate, or about the size of a baseball. Any dish where you can’t identify the ingredients instantly (think cheesy potato casserole) you may just want to skip.

Three Bites To Heaven

Try limiting the richie-rich desserts to two or three bites and cookies to three or four. If this just seems impossible, go with a super-healthy dessert made with dark chocolate (look for products containing at least 60 percent or greater cocoa solids). Tie fresh fruit and yogurt into every dessert buffet.

Avoid Liquid Traps

You definitely don’t have to outlaw, but you do want to limit intake of eggnog, mixed drinks, and craft holiday beers. Whip up a pitcher of fresh ice water with lime slices and fresh cranberries or serve relaxing peppermint tea after dinner. Wine spritzers are another crowd-pleaser, made with one-fourth wine and three-fourths sparkling water.

How will You keep your meal healthy?