Preparing a Healthy Holiday Meal
The holidays are a time for festivities and joy – now more than ever – and food always seems to be the one thing that brings everyone together. Whether your plans have changed during the pandemic and you are cooking a more intimate meal, or you decided to hold a safe, family gathering in your home, following the tips below can assist you in creating some wonderful meals and still help to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
- Shop smart. Instead of rushing around and grabbing the first things you see to get out of the store, research items, food labels and recipes online prior to doing your holiday grocery shopping. Most importantly, have a grocery list in hand when you go.
- Focus on produce. Increase the fruits and veggies in your meals and cook them in ways that celebrate their natural flavors instead of hiding them under heavy sauces or glazes. A good choice may be roasted or baked green beans, squash, or broccoli with olive oil, garlic and sea salt in the oven for a crisp, light, and healthy side dish in place of a casserole.
- Lighten up your recipes. Reduce fat and calories without missing out on taste by making some of these substitutions:
- When baking, instead of using oil, margarine or butter, try substituting applesauce to reduce fat and calories. Let’s compare a 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce with 1/2 cup of vegetable oil: Unsweetened applesauce has 50 calories, 0 fat, lots of vitamin C, and 1 gram of fiber while vegetable oil has 964 calories, 109g of fat, no vitamins, and no fiber
- Always use fat-free versions of creamy ingredients such as yogurt, sour cream, or whipped topping. Plain Greek yogurt is an excellent alternative to sour cream in recipes that call for it. One ounce of plain Greek yogurt contains 17 calories, 0 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein. The same amount of full-fat sour cream contains 62 calories, 6 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.
- Use reduced-fat cheeses in casseroles and salads. By replacing low fat shredded cheddar for full fat you avoid 6 extra grams of fat and 80 calories per cup.
- What can we say about stuffing? Stuffing is often one of the highest calorie items of a holiday meal. Consider using cauliflower in place of bread in your stuffing recipe for a low-carb, gluten-free stuffing alternative.
- What can we say about mashed potatoes? Potatoes often get a bad reputation and that is mainly because of what is added to them (i.e. gravy, cheese, sour cream, butter) but if you follow some of the guidelines mentioned above such as using reduced fat items or roasted potatoes as an alternative you will still be able to enjoy during the holiday season.
Have a healthy and happy holiday season!
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