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Winter Holiday Food Traditions Make the World Go Round

By: Aizya Ali-Mohammed, RDN, LD Jeremy Douglas - Dietic Intern with Life University

Happy holidays!          幸せな休日          Buone feste!          Trevlig helg!          Boas Festas! 

I’ve heard you can travel around the world in eighty days, but let’s take a private jet and explore in eight minutes.  

Ladies and gents! Please take your seats and buckle up. Before we depart, I want you to close your eyes. When I say “holiday dinner” what images come to mind? Perhaps family, friends, and food? Lots and lots of food! But what does that food look like? You may reminisce on warm memories of an American Christmas dinner laden with roasted turkey and cornbread dressing, buttermilk mashed potatoes, brown gravy, cranberry sauce, and a vegetable medley. But there are many other cultures around the world that have their own unique traditions when it comes to what they eat during this special time of year. We’re ready for takeoff!  



Our first stop is in Japan where New Year’s means preparing kazunoko, a dish made of herring roe that has been marinated in sugar and soy sauce. This delicacy is often accompanied with rice and vegetables and represents family unity. Herring roe is a source of zinc which is important for strengthening your immune system all winter long.  

Struggling to choose between sweet and savory during the holidays? With mochi, a sticky rice cake, you don’t have to! It can be served either way to satisfy all your holiday cravings.  Mochi is often eaten with a soup called ozoni, which varies regionally but usually contains vegetables and chicken or fish. Warm you winter nights with this dish rich in protein and heart-healthy fat.  


Our next stop is Italy, you are sure to fall in love with the cuisine. Make sure not to leave a pizza your heart at the colosseum! In Italy Christmas Eve means codfish prepared in a variety of ways. In the south of Italy, codfish is often fried and served with potatoes, whereas in the north it is typically boiled and served with polenta. Make a large batch so there’s polenta to go around!  

Cotechino con lenticchie, a type of sausage made from pork skin, beef fat, and spices that is traditionally served with lentils. This dish represents good fortune for the year to come because the round shape of the sausage resembles a coin. Both dishes are a source of protein and complex carbohydrates to fuel a day bicycling through the Tuscany countryside. 



We’re halfway there, pull out those parkas! We are touching down in the Kingdom of Sweden where the winters are fierce, but the food is top tier. Janssons Frestelse, also known as Jansson's Temptation layers potatoes, onions, cream, and anchovies in a baked casserole. It gets its name from Pelle Janzon, a Swedish opera singer who was known for his love of food. Other traditional dishes include ham, potatoes, and lingonberry jam. For Christmas, saffron buns, flavored with saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon are usually served with coffee or hot chocolate. Spices didn’t just inspire a British girl group; they also have antioxidant properties that help protect our body’s cells from free radicals.  


Our last destination is to Brazil, the land of beautiful beaches. A Brazilian Christmas feast includes bacalhau, dried salt cod, that is traditionally served with potatoes and olives. Indulge in a serving for B-vitamins and iron. Power up with antioxidants by doing as the Brazilians do and serving with hot coffee or tea.  

We have now returned home and landed safely! Thank you for traveling with GMM Airlines.  


One word before you exit --no matter where you go in the world during the winter holidays, you're sure to find some delicious food! If you're looking to mix things up this year, why not try some cuisine from around the world? You might just find your new favorite! 

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