Continuing to eat healthy over the holiday season is a top priority for many people. But with so many seasonal indulgences, how to you keep to your diet without missing out? Before you reach for that once a year indulgence, consider your options. If you are the one hosting your holiday meal or have been asked to bring a dish, here are some great ideas that can make your meal healthier.
Swap Out Full Fat Items for Lighter Versions
When we look at the recipes our grandmothers passed down to us, we often see ingredients like whole milk and creamy soups. Instead of using these items, consider if using skim or low fat milk is an acceptable substitute for your dish. Campbell’s soups recognizes that we are all watching what we eat and has put out a lighter version of their green bean casserole recipe that includes a healthier version of their cream of mushroom soup.
Swapping out full fat items like whole milk and cream for low fat Greek yogurt can help you lighten up the dish but retain its creamy texture. This swap can also help you up your protein and lower your fat intakes.
Swap Out Oils and Canned Fruit for Baking
Substitute oil for applesauce for your baking needs. There is no hard math needed here. Just swap out an equal amount of applesauce for the oil you would normally use. Using this method does not effect the texture or quality of your cakes but retains the moisture of the product.
While canned fruit provides a softer texture, it often comes with heavy syrups or added sugars. Using real fruit instead of canned items allows you to retrain the nutritional value and texture that the canning process often strips away from the fruit through boiling or peeling.
Swap Out High Fat Appetizers for Better Options
Think about how you can change up your traditional appetizers with more nutrient dense ingredients. Usually sticking to appetizers that are all natural and require no cooking are great options. Swap out those greasy finger foods and consider one of these for your menu:
Mozzarella Bites: Place a bite size mozzarella ball, cherry tomato and basil on a toothpick. This makes for a satisfying and healthy full bite.
Endive Boats: Use the leaves of the endive as your mechanism to carry all sorts of tasty ingredients, instead of traditional crackers or bread. You can fill it with pomegranate seeds and goat cheese or crab meat with a zest of lime.
Stuffed Mushrooms: Think about filling your mushroom caps with crab as the main ingredient instead of sausage or beef.
Swap Out Meat for Fish or Meatless Options
As you look over the menu, figure out where you can cut out the meat. As more of the population turns to a vegetarian or pescatarian diet for a healthier diet or other reasons, the holiday meal should offer your guests options that reflect these choices. In keeping with the theme of the holiday season, here are some dishes your guests may enjoy:
Stuffed Red or Green Peppers: Be creative and even festive in your choice of stuffing. Stuff these wonderful vegetables with quinoa, spinach and goat cheese. Another suggestion is to add brown rice, pine nuts and cranberries.
Ratatouille: Ratatouille is a dish made primarily of vegetables like eggplant, zucchini and red peppers. This ratatouille tart provides a festive look to the table while adding vegetables. It can be a delicious main or side dish.
Fish Dishes: Whether you are celebrating with a delicious Latin inspired ceviche, fish that is cooked using the acids of lime or lemon juice, or a wonderful ciopinni, an Italian inspired dish including various fish like mussels, clams and squid, think about how you can incorporate a fish recipe that is healthy and delicious into your meal.
If keeping to your healthy lifestyle is a priority for you this holiday season and you are not the host, offer to make a dish or two. Something you know will be a healthy option for yourself and others at the table. Enjoy!