o Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how crunchy are thy branches

Every year around this time, it happens … I start to max out on all the sweet, heavy, high-calorie holiday foods. I love them all, but there’s only so much I can handle before my good cheer turns sour.

Grace’s tree-mendous crudité Christmas tree from last year is the perfect antidote. It’s cute, clever, crunchy and easy to put together.

Serve it to guests to give them a break from all the sweet stuff, or make one for your family to enjoy on Christmas morning. Want to deck your tree with a little more decadence? Pair it with a rich, creamy dip.

Crudité Christmas Tree
You can also try jicama, fennel or cucumber in place of (or in addition to) some of the veggies.

  • 1 pound celery, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, kept whole except for 3 thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into rounds
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into pieces

On a large platter, create the outline of the tree, including the tree trunk, with celery sticks. Fill in the tree with broccoli, and fill in the trunk with sliced mushrooms.

Arrange carrots and cherry tomatoes in the shape of a garland on top of the broccoli, and place a few tomatoes at the end of the celery “branches” for ornaments. Turn yellow bell pepper on its side and cut horizontally to create the star. Surround entire tree with cauliflower and mushrooms, and serve with your favorite dip.

Dip tips: Serve with a creamy cheese dip to complement the crunch of the fresh veggies, or try one of my favorite dips: Puree a 15 oz can of drained white beans with a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of lemon zest and a couple of good squeezes of lemon (salt and pepper to taste).