Healthy Holiday Alternatives

The holidays are a time to enjoy food, friends and family.  With the many holiday parties, get-togethers and yummy treats this time of the year, it is no wonder most people gain a few pounds over these holiday months. One way to save some calories is to use recipe alterations to cut down on extra fat and sugar. Remember to balance your food intake and energy output; adding in exercise, like a family walk after dinner, will help keep the extra pounds away.

Here are some healthy holiday alternatives to try this holiday season: 

  • Choose the white meat over dark meat for a leaner healthier option. 
  • Use low-fat gravy.
  • Make homemade sides instead of store bought or boxed sides.
  • Swap the sour cream in your dishes with Greek yogurt. Many holiday dishes have sour cream—mashed potatoes, casseroles and sauces. These can instantly be made healthier by subbing in an equal amount of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt will also add some protein to the dish.
  • Make sure to snack on fruits and vegetables rather than candies and desserts.
  • Eat a meal before the party so you do not over indulge during the party.
  • Enjoy your favorite holiday foods in moderation.
  • Mashed potatoes- just know that a cup of mashed potatoes, before butter and gravy, racks up more than 200 calories. Cut calories and empty carbs by making mashed cauliflower instead. They offer same texture and similar flavor, plus vitamin C.
  • Sparkling water- Cocktails are usually offered at holiday parties and meals. Try replacing a sugary mixer with sparkling water flavored with fresh grated ginger, mint or fruit.  These options can save you about 30 grams of sugar per serving. Don’t forget to drink water in between cocktails.
  • Fat. For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce or prune puree. Ripe mashed bananas and avocados are also excellent butter replacers. Bananas add nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. Avocado puree has the creaminess and subtle flavor that works well to the texture of fudge brownies and dark chocolate flavorings. Use 1 cup of mashed bananas or avocado puree per cup of butter. 
  • Sugar. Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. Instead, add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla extract or almond flavoring to add sweetness.
  • Chocolate cake makes a great choice to sneak in pureed veggies like beets, pumpkin and spinach!
  • Whole wheat flour for white flour. In virtually any baked good, replacing white flour with whole wheat can add a whole new dimension of nutrients, flavor, and texture. For every cup of white flour, substitute 7/8 cup of whole-wheat. If buying rolls or bread, look for 100% whole wheat. 
  • Two egg whites for one whole egg. Trading out the yolk for a second white will cut out the cholesterol while doubling the protein. If making a dish that requires more eggs, keep one to two yolks for their rich vitamins A, E, D, and K content, but consider swapping out the rest.