BETTER CHOICES FOR A HEALTHY HOLIDAY MENU
If you’re trying to stay on track during the holidays or just want to have a healthier holiday menu, we’ve got a few ideas for you. The holiday time of the year tends to bring an onslaught of sweets, treats and adult beverages. Many of these items are high in sugar, contain unhealthy fats and leave you feeling tired and bloated after a holiday meal. Often times we associate healthy food with bland and boring but this is simply not the case anymore.
The great news is that you can still have a festive, delicious holiday menu that isn’t full of calories, an overload of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that you want to avoid. Planning a healthy holiday menu isn’t hard. It may take a little more time to plan and gather healthy recipes but getting creative in the process of menu planning can be really fun. These simple food swaps might help you construct your healthy holiday feast.
5 EASY FOOD SWAPS
Chips & Dip: While chips and dips such as artichoke dip, cheese dips and any mayonnaise based dips can be delicious, they are loaded with junk. The traditional corn chips, potato chips or pita chips offered on the side don’t offer much in the way of nutrients either.
Food Swap: Serve a cheese tray instead with an assorted array of natural cheeses and fresh fruit such as berries and grapes. Offer a few cheeses to choose from and vary their flavors from mild to bold. You can also add a whole grain or grain free cracker on the side. Fresh cut vegetables are another great addition to a cheese plate. Dips like guacamole are also delicious served with veggies.
Stuffing & Dressing: The tradition of stuffing the bird has been around for years and years. We love to fill the carcass of a turkey or chicken with a bread based dressing. Often times these dressings are full of fats, meats such as sausage and high sodium chicken stock.
Food Swap: If you must have stuffing, opt for an organic, whole grain sprouted bread or a gluten free bread instead. If you can forego the stuffing (or dressing), a turkey stuffed with vegetables and potatoes with rosemary, garlic cloves and any other seasonings of your choice is a much better option.
Green Bean Casserole: Green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and crispy onions may taste great but it offers nothing healthy other than the nutrients that might be available in the green beans (provided they’re fresh and not canned). In addition, this sodium bomb may also contain added soy sauce and milk.
Food Swap: Enjoy fresh roasted green beans with crispy caramelized onions and toasted crushed almonds. Adding ingredients like onions, olive oil, almonds and fresh thyme to your green beans not only makes them taste great but boosts the nutrient value of the dish. You’ll have fresh whole ingredients without the sodium, unhealthy fats, and load of calories offered in the traditional dish.
Sweet Potato Casserole: Yams are delicious and they’re really good for you but when they’re mixed with butter, sugar and topped with marshmallows, they somehow become unhealthy in a matter of minutes.
Food Swap: Try a “healthified” version of a sweet potato casserole. Yams can easily be whipped with a small amount of organic butter, milk, or non dairy milk. You can then transfer your whipped creation to a baking pan and lightly sprinkle with coconut sugar (or brown sugar) and chopped pecans. Finish in the broiler to make the top nice and crispy. Fresh fruit with whipped cream is also a wonderful substitute for pies. It’s sweet and satisfying without the guilt.
Pecan Pie: Unfortunately, traditional pecan pie has ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and molasses making it loaded with refined sugar. This is definitely not how you want to end your holiday. In addition, the pie crust is full of refined carbohydrates pushing this dessert over the edge in carbohydrate overload.
Food Swap: Instead of the regular store bought pecan pie, a healthier homemade version would be a huge improvement – one without corn syrup. Another great option is to make roasted pears or apples and top them with a bit of organic butter, coconut sugar and toasted pecans. This version would save you a ton of calories and less likely to put you into a food coma.
INCORPORATING YOUR HEALTHY HOLIDAY MENU
Healthy versions of all of your favorite holiday dishes are available by doing a simple google search for recipes. Many are just as tasty as the traditional dish and offer way more nutritional value. Easy food swaps like the examples given above are easy to incorporate and won’t leave you feeling sleepy and sluggish.
Focus on fresh, whole foods for your healthy holiday menu. Eliminate as many refined grains and sugars as you can and your menu will instantly have a health upgrade. Watch out for these foods and ingredients in your recipes:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Butter (in excess – a little is fine)
Other Processed Foods like condensed milk, creamy soups (cream of mushroom, etc), flour mixes, breads, store bought pie crusts and more.
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