7 healthy swaps for traditional holiday favorites!
The holidays are a time for family friends — and lots of food. It can be hard to turn down all the yummy side dishes and sweets. But making a few healthy swaps for traditional holiday foods can help you cut calories and avoid the dreaded weight gain often associated with the holiday season. You can still enjoy your favorite holiday food traditions by simply making some adjustments.
Mashed potato swaps
Swapping out traditional mashed potatoes which are often loaded with butter can help you cut calories and add extra nutrients to this favorite holiday side dish. Try this orange sweet potato recipe from Reid Health's I Heart Cooking which calls for nutrient-dense sweet potatoes orange juice orange zest light brown sugar and ground cinnamon. You can also mash cooked cauliflower in place of white potatoes to cut calories and carbs.
Holiday gravies often add extra calories saturated fat and sodium to your holiday meal. Fortunately you can still add gravy to your menu by making your own using healthy ingredients. Try this low-fat turkey gravy recipe from the Mayo Clinic. This recipe calls for unsalted turkey stock fresh sage thyme and skim milk.
Instead of traditional holiday casseroles which are often high in calories fat and sodium choose healthier deep dishes. For example instead of making a green bean or broccoli casserole steam fresh green beans or broccoli and top them with slivered almonds. Or try simply oven-roasting vegetables in olive oil instead of making traditional vegetable casseroles.
Cream soup swaps
While cream soups have a rich flavor they're often high in sodium and saturated fat. Instead choose low-sodium broth-based soups such as this winter squash soup from Reid Health's I Heart Cooking. This nutritious soup recipe calls for fat-free low-sodium chicken broth winter squash spices and fat-free half-and-half.
Traditional stuffing swaps
Instead of traditional or store-bought stuffing made with butter and cubes of white bread try healthier versions of this holiday classic. Sauté your favorite vegetables in olive or canola oil add whole-grain bread cubes moisten them with low-sodium chicken broth add your favorite herbs and bake your dish. Or try EatingWell's nontraditional bulgur stuffing with cranberries and hazelnuts or wild rice and bulgur stuffing recipes.
Cranberry sauce swaps
Many cranberry sauces are loaded with added sugar to counteract the bitter flavor of the cranberries. Instead try this apricot dip recipe from Reid Health's I Heart Cooking which calls for fresh orange juice dried apricots unsweetened applesauce spices and fat-free vanilla yogurt.
Pies are often holiday favorites but some contain over 500 calories in just one slice! Instead try healthier crustless pumpkin pie from Amy's Healthy Baking which provides you with the nutritional perks of pumpkin without the extra calories and fat from pie crust. Or try a heart-healthy pumpkin spice smoothie recipe from the American Heart Association.
Christie Ferriell diabetes and nutrition education manager at Reid Health notes that regardless of which foods you choose it's important to focus on portion control during the holidays. You can enjoy the foods you love during the holidays without gaining weight as long as you're mindful of portion sizes eat your favorites in moderation and make simple healthy swaps for some of those higher-calorie traditional recipes.