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The holidays can be a challenge for those living with digestive diseases – luckily, there are many delicious and gut-friendly options that are sure to please a crowd! Check out these recipes thoughtfully designed by University of Chicago nutritionist Courtney Schuchmann:

Sweet and Savory Roasted Brussels Sprout and Butternut Squash


  • 3 cups brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash, peeled, seeded, 1-inch cubes (~1.5 lb squash)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups pecans, halves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets with olive oil or non-stick spray.
  2. Mix brussels sprouts that have been cut in half with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt. Then place brussels sprouts cut-side down on baking sheet.
  3. Prepare the butternut squash by mixing the already cubed butternut squash with 1 tbsp olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Toss to evenly coat the squash. Then place in a single layer on the second baking sheet.
  4. Place both baking sheets in the oven, on the same rack, and roast for 20-25 minutes. Half way through toss the butternut squash. During the last 5 minutes flip the Brussels sprouts over and roast an additional 5-10 minutes until an even golden brown.
  5. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and roast the pecans for about 5 minutes or until slightly darker in color.
  6. In a large bowl combine the roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, pecans, and dried cranberries, and toss until well mixed.


If you prefer to not have to peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash yourself, you can purchase cubed butternut squash at many stores which is ready for use in any recipe.

If you have leftovers, you can toss the remaining mixture with cooked and chilled pasta and some crumbled blue cheese, to make an easy leftover fall pasta salad.

This recipe can also be prepared with half the amount of dried cranberries if you are looking to cut back on the sugar content.

Nutrition Insight:

  • This is a gluten free, dairy free dish that can accompany the main dish at any holiday gathering. By omitting the pecans and substituting roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds in this recipe you can make this dish allergy friendly for individuals with nut allergies as well.
  • This dish is packed with healthy fat, fiber, and antioxidants which have been found to help with digestion, heart health, blood sugar control, and protection against certain types of cancer.
  • Butternut squash is a great source of vitamin C which can help strengthen your immune system, and we can all use a little extra boost during the winter months and this flu season!

Dark Chocolate Bark


  • 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 10 oz. bag low sugar dark chocolate chips (60% or greater dark chocolate chips)
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. coarse mineral salt


  1. In a microwaveable container, melt chocolate chips with coconut oil. Heat in 30 second intervals to avoid scorching.
  2. Stir chocolate until it is smooth. Then add in the pecans and coconut, stirring well.
  3. Pour onto a parchment lined baking pan and smooth out.
  4. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
  5. Place in freezer to harden.
  6. Break into pieces and store in the refrigerator after it has hardened.


This is a super simple recipe that you can make ahead of time for any holiday party or get together.  You can store broken pieces of the chocolate bark in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

This basic recipe can be manipulated multiple ways to change the flavors. Try adding broken candy cane pieces in place of the nuts or substituting different types of nuts in place of pecans such as chopped almonds, walnuts, pistachios or hazelnuts.

This can be a fun holiday activity for the family where everyone makes their own chocolate bark with their specifically selected ingredients Other possible ingredients to play around with: dried fruits, cocoa nibs, broken up pretzels, and mini marshmallows.

Nutrition Insight:

  • This is a great dessert/after dinner treat that is not loaded with tons of added sugars and is packed with healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Higher percentage dark chocolate is typically lower in sugar and total carbohydrate in comparison to other varieties of chocolate. Always make sure to compare the nutrition facts label when choosing chocolate chips. I recommend selecting one with the highest fiber to total carbohydrate ratio.
  • Dark chocolate contains polyphenols which are a type of antioxidant found to help protect against heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers, and various chronic diseases.
  • Enjoy Life makes dark chocolate chips that are free of the top 8 allergens for individuals looking for a dairy free option.