A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

3 tips for healthful holiday potluck ideas

Crunchy pear and celery salad - Healthy dish to pass

Crunchy Pear and Celery Salad is a gluten free, high fiber, low-sodium potluck recipe.

“Please bring a dish to pass.”

How many times have you heard this phrase and then thought to yourself, “What am I going to bring?”

Kari Mizgalski, a Marshfield Clinic nutritionist, suggests keeping a few things in mind for a holiday potluck.

“The perfect combination is a healthy, easy-to-make and easy-to-transport ‘dish to pass’ that will not send guests home with food poisoning after sitting out for a couple hours.”

3 tips for good potluck ideas

Vinegar over mayo

With salads, look for vinegar-based recipes, rather than mayonnaise based.

“Vinegar-based salads save calories, taste more refreshing than most heavy, holiday foods and are less likely to give food poisoning if sitting out,” Mizgalski said.

Four hours is the max, two is preferred

Mizgalski recommends putting food back into the fridge after two hours to avoid having it go bad. Anything sitting out for more than four hours should be tossed.

Invest in ice or heat containers

“Bring food for your potluck in a nice container when possible,” she said. “Many companies sell insulated containers or containers with room for ice blocks.”

An alternative cooling option is to purchase flat ice packs and lay them on the counter or table beneath your potluck dish.

Try this recipeCrunchy pear and celery salad - Healthy dish to pass

Here’s a crunchy salad for a gluten free, high fiber, low-sodium potluck idea.

Crunchy Pear and Celery Salad

Prep time: 25 minutes

Servings: 6


  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe pears, diced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see tip)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 large leaves butterhead or other lettuce


Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into half-inch pieces.

Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears and gently stir to coat. Add celery, cheese and pecans and stir to combine. Season with pepper. Divide lettuce leaves among six plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Tip: To toast chopped pecans, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. To make ahead, prepare salad without pecans up to two hours before serving. Stir in pecans just before serving.

Nutrition information

Serving: 1 cup. Each serving has 173 calories; 10 g fat (2 g sat. fat); 4 g fiber; 20 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 27 mcg folate; 11 mg cholesterol; 14 g sugars; 6 g added sugars; 574 IU vitamin A; 4 mg vitamin C; 154 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 180 mg sodium; 231 mg potassium.

Source: Adapted from EatingWell

Download salad recipe

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