The Ugly Truth about Holiday Eating Habits
Did you know that many people gain up to about 10 pounds during the holidays?
One big reason is that many holiday dishes often center around high-calorie comfort foods, and the colder temperatures and darker days make a case for more sitting on the couch.
More calories + less exercise = weight gain
If you are looking to change things up this year, you can still enjoy festive holiday foods while making some substitutions to keep it lighter and healthier!
How You Can Improve Your Holiday Eating Habits
In some cases, you may only need to make a low calorie/low fat substitution or two to your normal fare.
And don't forget that one of the single best things you can do to stay healthy and trim during the holidays is to drink a lot of water!
To begin, let’s take the traditional turkey holiday meal and walk through some healthy substitution ideas.
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips & Ideas
Use Applesauce in Your Baking
Substituting applesauce for oil in baking is my #1 easy tip for healthier holiday eating!
Whether you are making pumpkin muffins for your snack tray or baking a cake, using applesauce instead of oil cuts down the fat and calories, an also it keeps them more moist.
A word of caution: this trick does not work for pies or pastries!
Lighten Up the Gravy
Another good substitution that nobody will even notice is to use fat-free chicken broth in place of turkey drippings for your gravy.
You’ll cut the calories from 100 to 15 per cup along with cutting out over four grams of fat.
Makeover Your Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes have to the all-time great holiday comfort food but when made the traditional way are full of high calorie/ high-fat ingredients.
To make them healthier, substitute olive oil for butter and nonfat sour cream for buttermilk. Note: when you do use lower fat dairy products, salt and sugar are often used to add flavor that is taken out with the fat.
I traditionally use 1% milk for my mashed potatoes, but this year I tried using healthy rice milk, and they were amazing!
Pro Tip: Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream in many recipes. I have used it to replace high-fat sour cream in dips, dinner recipes and even on tacos! It tastes fabulous in this easy chip and veggie dip!
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Highlight Sweet Potatoes in a Different Way
Sweet potato casserole is a common holiday dish. But when made with butter and topped with marshmallows, it can be a calorie disaster.
Instead, this year try roasting your sweet potatoes. Here's an example recipe:
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Mix 4 cups chopped and peeled sweet potatoes, 1 diced sweet onion, and 2 cloves minced garlic in a bowl.
- Drizzle olive oil over the mixture and toss to coat; spread out onto a shallow roasting pan.
- Roast sweet potato mixture in a preheated oven (turning frequently) until the vegetables are soft and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
Cranberries are naturally low in sugar, but many recipes add large amounts of sugar to make them sweet.
To cut down on the amount of sugar, replace the one cup you normally use with 1/4 cup of sugar and ¼ cup of Stevia in the Raw®.
You can also experiment with replacing some or all of the sugar with honey or agave nectar. The sugar will still be there, but it will be minimally processed sugar which makes it healthier.
Not So Stuffed Stuffing
Lighten up your stuffing by using olive oil and fat-free chicken broth.
Also adding in flavorful, but filling nuts, dried fruits, celery or carrots adds bulk to the dish without adding many calories.
Pumpkin Pie is a must for dessert! But you can make it healthier by substituting low-fat or fat-free milk or rice milk in place of whole milk and reduce your sugar by 1/4 cup. Putting whipped cream on top of the pie will make it still seem as sweet!
The Good News
Turkey breast is naturally low in calories and fat at 34 calories per 33 gram (1 ounce) serving and 1 gram of saturated fat, so there isn’t much to change there.
However, if you tend to slather your turkey in butter to get the skin crispy brown, try spraying it with my favorite Olive Oil spray this year – way fewer calories and still an amazing golden brown!
Don't Let the Holidays Stress You Out!
Have a little fun, if you want and try an experiment! As a test, don’t tell your guests ahead of time about the substitutions you made.
After the meal, ask them about the dishes and what they thought about each one. Then tell them about the changes you made. They will be amazed and in most cases not notice any appreciable difference in taste or texture.
Now, keep in mind that if you have accomplished cooks or serious connoisseurs at your table, you will not be able to pull this off as easily in every instance.
However, most of the substitutions that I have mentioned are minor while delivering a lot of bang for their buck (so to speak), so you might be ok even with picky guests! But the average family – these ideas are amazing!
To help you out even more, I am including an amazing recipe that's full of flavor and perfect for a holiday gathering or meal! Grab our recipe for Apple Butternut Squash Casserole with Bacon-Pecan Topping!
Tell us in the comments below: what are one or two substitutions or changes you can make to create a healthier holiday meal for your holiday meal this year?
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