Holiday gathering should be pure fun, but for some there’s a layer of stress to go with each tray of cookies or decadent meal served. That’s why it’s smart to think ahead and be nutritionally minded as we enter the holiday season. Make choices that you not only enjoy, but make you feel good. There are many healthy alternatives or better choices you can make that will leave you feeling light and satisfied, while still festive.
Holiday Meal Face-Off
Appetizer: Hummus vs. Cheese Ball
When you’re mingling and waiting for the main meal to be served, enjoy a dip or spread that’s light and nutrient-dense! Something like homemade hummus made from garbanzo beans limits fat and carbohydrate intake and boasts a healthy dose of fiber. Serving this dip with fresh veggies only adds to its nutritional value, and is better for you than rich cheeses and white flour crackers involved in classic cheese ball recipes.
Side: Cauliflower Puree vs. Mashed Potatoes
Substitute traditional mashed potatoes this holiday season with cauliflower puree for a much lower dose of carbohydrates. You may even be able to fool some of your family and friends with this sneaky substitute because cauliflower puree looks and tastes quite similar! However, with just 28 calories of cauliflower per serving compared to 128 for potatoes, this truly is a no-brainer.
Side: Fresh Green Beans vs. Green Bean Casserole
It’s time to ditch the cans of cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions as your route to getting your serving of veggies. Get that crunchy taste and comforting feeling with steamed or sautéed green beans. Simply season with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for a lightened up version of this holiday classic. If you’re feeling adventurous, try something like Lemony Green Beans with Almond breadcrumbs. No need to concern yourself with the high fat and high sodium contents of a casserole.
Main Dish: Roast Turkey or Chicken vs. Prime Rib
If you’re trying to stay lean, think lean when it comes to the meat you prepare or choose this holiday season. Selecting leaner choices of meat like turkey or chicken over red meat is nutritionally smarter. Also take into account the cuts of the poultry you choose to serve. Did you know that ounce for ounce, the amount of fat from least to most is chicken breast, drumstick, wing, then thigh?
Dessert: Candied Nuts vs. Pecan Pie
Pecan pie is traditionally made with a significant amount of corn syrup or brown sugar, which translates to being high in calories (not to mention the high fat crust, which adds to the caloric load). This holiday season, treat yourself to some candied nuts. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and protein. But remember to eat them in moderation because they’re still naturally higher in calories.