This time of year is meant to be savored, but with all the celebratory meals taking place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the indulgences can add up and throw off your normal wellness routine. So, why not do some clever ingredient swaps for your favorite festive foods this year so you can stay on track with your wellness journey?
Here are simple swaps for all your favorite holiday dishes that will let you enjoy everything the season has to offer, but in moderation…
Potato creations of all forms and textures just might be the most popular holiday dish. While spuds aren’t inherently bad for you since they have high amounts of fiber and antioxidants, they are a starchy carb that ranks high on the glycemic index. This means they have a considerable impact on blood sugar levels. Luckily, there are plenty of swaps that can better balance blood sugar and still taste great. Try these…
- Use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes in mashed potato or scalloped potato dishes.
- Try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. And if you simply can’t part with the mouthfeel of traditional mashed potatoes, try a half and half mix of mashed cauliflower and Yukon gold potatoes.
- Make roasted whole sweet potatoes instead of the infamous belly-busting sweet-potato casserole. Try these Stuffed Hasselback Potatoes.
Holiday dishes tend to rely on a lot of butter, cream, and sour cream for that decadence factor. While saturated fat is fine in small amounts, when every dish is loaded with them, it can go past moderation quickly. Substitute some heavy saturated fats for lighter, more nutrient-dense additions that don’t sacrifice delicious flavor. Here’s how…
- Opt for soups thickened with puréed vegetables instead of heavy cream (try this Butternut Squash Soup).
- Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips, salad dressings, whipped into mashed potatoes, or to dollop on soup. Why? Well, Greek yogurt contains 300% more protein per serving than sour cream, and it’s also loaded with gut-beneficial probiotics.
- Skip the processed and cream-laden green bean casserole this year, which is made with canned soup and fried onions, in favor of lightened-up roasted green beans topped with sautéed onions and sliced almonds instead.
- If a recipe calls for butter, cut it in half and use olive oil. You can almost always swap butter out for olive oil, especially when sautéeing, pan frying, and roasting.
- Skip traditional eggnog for a non-dairy alternative. Not only is a traditional serving of eggnog just a half cup according to most cartons (tricky!), but that small amount still packs close to 200 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 15 grams of sugar. By comparison, most alternatives such as oat-based versions cut all of that in half.
It wouldn’t be a festive feast without carb-heavy dishes galore! However, too many bread- and flour-based offerings can fill us up quickly, bring on the after-meal carb crash, and derail our overall wellness goals. Try these smart carb swaps instead...
- Replace rice side dishes with protein- and fiber-rich quinoa.
- Replace croutons in salads with crunchy nuts like pecans or walnuts.
- Pair your turkey with a variety of vegetable sides instead of high-calorie casseroles. Try crispy roasted Brussels sprouts, a tray of rainbow carrots, sautéed mushrooms and onions, roasted squash rings, and red and golden beets.
- Try low-carb or keto bread in your stuffing recipes.
Baking alternatives have exploded along with the influx of dietary restrictions. So, even if you don’t have a dietary limitation, these swaps are healthier alternatives to use in all your favorite baked goods. Try these better-for-you baking swaps…
- Instead of refined sugar, try 1:1 granulated monk fruit in your baking recipes. Monk fruit is a South Asian fruit that’s famous for being a zero-calorie sugar alternative that can be used to sweeten just about anything without impacting blood-sugar levels.
- Use almond, chickpea, or whole-grain flour in place of white flour.
- Wherever possible, use better-for-you oils in place of butter.
- Try mashed banana or applesauce instead of sugar in muffins and loaves.
- Replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate when a recipe calls for melted chocolate or chocolate chips.
‘Tis the season for flowing cocktails, but the empty calories and sugar in most cups of cheer will leave you feeling anything but cheerful by the end of the season. Try these tips for smarter sipping…
- Skip alcohol altogether and opt instead for low-sugar mocktails with added superfoods. For a refreshing change, try this Spicy Superfood Marg Mocktail or this Green Appletini Mocktail.
- If you decide to imbibe, replace sugary mixers with flavored seltzers or soda water, and choose dry wines over sweet wines which have considerably less sugar.
- For every adult beverage you drink, have two cups of water to stay hydrated and slow the flow of alcohol.
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