Make Your Favorite Holiday Foods Healthier

The good news is that the average weight gain for the holiday season is just one pound. However, Americans aren’t losing that weight after the holidays, and over the years, those pounds add up.

Here are some tips for making your favorite holiday dishes healthier:

  • Curb the munchies by serving fresh veggies like cucumbers, colored peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, celery, and more — with hummus.
  • Try light pureed cauliflower instead of carb-heavy mashed potatoes. Swap butter and salt for fresh garlic, herb blends, or Parmesan cheese to create a unique taste with a fraction of the calories.
  • Use mashed avocado, ripe bananas, or applesauce for part or all of the butter, oil, or sugar in baked goods. Black beans also make a great substitution for flour (particularly in brownies).
  • Swap out sour cream for Greek yogurt when making your favorite casseroles, sauces, dips, and more.
  • Lighten your favorite candied yams or sweet potato casserole by using fruit juice or chunks of real fruit for added sweetness, or add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice instead of honey and syrup.
  • Use fresh herbs and spices to season your vegetables, or grill a selection of your favorites in olive oil. Pair carrots with dried cranberries or squash with sliced apples for unique, festive, and delicious holiday flavor combinations.
  • Make your green bean casserole healthier by baking chopped onions to create your own low-fat crispy topping and replacing creamy soups with broth. Or even better, top steamed crisp green beans with sautéed onion and toasted slivered almonds with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice to offer as a fresh, low-cal alternative.
  • Substitute a portion of your stuffing’s breadcrumbs with chopped onions or vegetables to add fiber and nutrients.
  • Make your famous dinner rolls with whole wheat flour instead of white flour, or serve sweet potato rolls.
  • If your favorite part of dessert is the pie filling, consider cutting the crust completely to shave off calories and fat that don’t bring you joy. Prepare your standard filling recipe, pour into individual ramekins or a glass pie plate, and bake until just set.
  • Make your eggnog less heavy by replacing half of the heavy cream with evaporated skim milk or dilute the store bought eggnog with skim or soy milk.
  • Combine super-tart cranberries with naturally sweet fruit like apples to reduce the amount of sugar in your cranberry sauce. A hint of fresh ginger and cinnamon or a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice add a unique twist.
  • Don’t confuse thirst with hunger by drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Add fresh slices of fruit for delicious and refreshing infused water (search for easy recipes online) or swap the sugary holiday cocktail for a festive citrus spritzer instead.
  • Eat mindfully – pick only the foods that give you true enjoyment and focus on savoring each bite.

Remember, it’s all about moderation, plus staying active. Want to learn more about ways to eat well and live a healthier life? Be sure to visit our healthy holiday recipes and health resources , plus check out ways to stay active this winter.

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