Setting a Healthy Holiday Table
It’s that time of year again to start planning your holiday meals. Whether you are hosting or heading to a friend or family member’s house with tasty dishes in tow, you are probably starting to think about what dish (or dishes) you are going to serve. Here are some recommendations to serve up festive fare that is both light and delicious! No matter your traditions, these adored and time honored dishes can be made with less fat, fewer calories and a reduced amount of sugar. The best part is that these recipes skimp on fat, but not on taste!
Although there are plenty of holiday foods that are actually healthy and full of nutritional benefits, the problem is that we go about preparing them the wrong way. Adding cholesterol, fat and sugar to healthy foods is counterintuitive but common around the holiday season. If you prepare these holiday table staples in a healthy way and watch your portion size, you and yours will gain numerous nutritional benefits!
Turkey – Is an excellent, healthy source of protein. That is of course, if you prepare it properly and don’t take the deep fried and covered in gravy approach! A 3 to 4 ounce healthy serving of turkey is a great source of folic acid, vitamin B, zinc and potassium. These nutrients have been proven to help keep cholesterol down and protect against heart disease or cancer while providing a boost to the immune system. If you are watching your weight, stick to the white meat and skip the skin as this will save you hundreds of calories. The best news is that turkey will fill you up without all the calories. It is one of the best lean proteins and should be a staple of your holiday diet if weight loss and fitness are a goal. Recipe idea
Sweet potatoes – Are arguably some of the healthiest veggies around. However, most holiday recipes don’t exactly translate the healthy nature of this yummy vegetable. This holiday season, try roasting your sweet potatoes as it keeps the flavor without adding the fat. Sweet potatoes are full of fiber, vitamin A, potassium and phytochemicals and all help promote a health body while staving off arthritis and aging. These spuds are also very filling, saving the need for an overloaded plate or seconds! Recipe idea
Cranberries – Cranberry sauce is a go to garnish for many Americans during the holidays. However, most of us don’t realize that our antioxidant packed berries are pumped with sugar because of their less than sweet nature. Cranberries are naturally low in sugar, which has many recipes calling for large doses of added sweetener to combat bitterness. Avoid all that sugar by sticking to a healthier option like Stevia or maple syrup. Recipe idea
Stuffing – This starch rich side is often regarded as one of the holiday’s most fattening and filling dishes. However, at its heart it is satisfying side that just needs a makeover. With a few minor changes, stuffing can be made into a healthy holiday staple. Consider packing it with nuts, carrots, celery, and dried fruit to add a range of vitamins and a dose of fiber. In addition, substitute low sodium chicken broth or oil (coconut or olive) instead or butter. Recipe idea
Gravy – The quintessential Thanksgiving staple. Sadly, a single serving of homemade gravy can added 200 to 300 calories to your holiday meal. Rather than cutting the gravy altogether, instead opt for substituting ingredients. Using coconut oil instead of butter and almond milk instead of cow’s milk while eliminating the meat drippings altogether will help shave calories from your holiday gravy. Upgrade your gravy with these substitutes or cut half the fat with this recipe. Recipe idea
Bread – Do we really need more carbs on our holiday plates? Probably not. Between stuffing and potatoes, do we really need rolls that are slathered in butter? Instead, opt for a crisp and flavorful flatbread that doesn’t require a creamy spread. Recipe idea
Potatoes – This simple way to cut carbs will have your guests wanting the recipe! Try this mashed cauliflower dish as a fantastic substitute to traditional spuds. This is a great way to avoid the food coma that can be caused by over indulging in copious amounts of Thanksgiving Day carbs. With a dish so tasty, your guests will be hard pressed to believe they are eating cauliflower instead of potatoes! Recipe idea
Pumpkin – Let’s be honest as nothing says Thanksgiving quite like pumpkin pie. This heart-healthy veggie is packed with vitamin A and rich in fiber. A big plus is that pumpkins are naturally moist, so you don’t need to add a lot of unhealthy ingredients to make this dish tasty. Substitute almond milk for cow’s milk and egg whites whenever possible. Cut back or even eliminate white processed sugar and opt for Stevia instead to provide a healthy twist on a classic Thanksgiving dessert. Recipe idea
Take some stress out of holiday planning by ensuring that the meals you prepare are healthy and filling while maintaining personal traditions. Remember that by looking at food from a healthy perspective, you will be able to make it through the holidays without wishing you hadn’t had that last piece of pie!
The holidays are a time to indulge, but do it the right way. Indulge in love, laughter, time with friends and family, and perhaps one extra side of your favorite dish.