Healthier Holiday Eats
It’s common for eating habits to change around the holidays, which can quickly cause a change in our waistlines. But with the right ingredients, your holiday menu can be delicious and nutritious. Transform your holiday feast with these tips from Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group.
Tip 1: Mix up your mash.
Instead of serving starchy mashed potatoes, make a lower-calorie mash with cauliflower or parsnips. After steaming your chosen vegetable, mash it up with roasted garlic, onion, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Top it with chopped parsley or green onion for extra flavor.
Tip 2: Go nutty.
Whenever a recipe calls for milk or cream, substitute it with a low-fat or nut based milk. You can even make your own hot cocoa! Heat up low-fat, almond, or cashew milk and add cacao powder (cocoa powder without the sugar) and vanilla, then sweeten with stevia, date paste, or a small scoop of raw sugar.
Tip 3: Make your sauce from scratch.
Canned cranberry sauce is often filled with sugar and syrups. Try making your own cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries and alternative sweeteners. Sweetening with fresh pineapple, pears, or mandarin oranges is a great way to get an extra boost of vitamin C and reduce the amount of refined sugar or artificial sweetener your recipe may call for.
Tip 4: Stir up a mocktail.
Cocktails can contain too much sugar and hidden calories. Sip on a mocktail instead! Freshly juice a few apples and add a splash of sparkling water and an optional spoonful of apple cider vinegar to give it an edge. Garnish with apple slices and a cinnamon stick for some festive spice. If you do indulge in an alcoholic drink, make sure you have a safe ride home.
Tip 5: Imagine Butter Health
We all know butter is not the best for your diet. Fortunately, you can still indulge in your favorites without the extra fat by substituting butter for applesauce, mashed bananas, or coconut oil. Mashed fruits work best as an alternative in baked goods while healthy oils are great for cooking.
Tip 6: Bake a batch.
Instead of frying your potato latkes, bake them. Reducing the amount of oil you use will reduce the fat and calories you consume. The same goes for turkey; it’s healthier to keep it traditionally roasted.
Tip 7: It’s all gravy.
When it comes to gravy, ditch the canned versions, which are often loaded with salt and fat. Before serving your homemade gravy, chill it for a bit to allow the fat to float to the top, skim it off, and reheat for your guests to enjoy.
Tip 8: Deconstruct your pumpkin pie.
Make your pumpkin pie healthier without sacrificing taste. Create a pumpkin pie parfait starting with raw pumpkin puree mixed with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla. Sweeten your pumpkin pie puree with a ripe persimmon or a few dates that have been soaked for a couple of hours. Blend it all together, and then spoon your pumpkin pie filling into individual cups, layering with low-fat vanilla yogurt. Top it with a sweet crumble made with oats, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, and a spoonful of brown sugar.
Make sure you are packing your plate with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Mindfully enjoy your food to avoid overeating, and try to wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds. If you need help planning healthy meals based on your nutritional needs, schedule a consultation with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician or nutritionist. We wish you a healthy and happy holiday season!