For many, the holiday season is about more than just family and fun – it’s about food! And while occasional indulgences are fine, six weeks of treats and sweets can take a toll on your health.
This holiday season, look for opportunities to make a healthy swap – exchanging high calorie, full fat ingredients with a healthier, more nutritious option. Here are a few swaps to consider (slideshow below):
- Substitute Yogurt in Dips: Replacing full-fat sour cream with low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt will dramatically improve the nutritional profile of your dip without sacrificing flavor. An ounce of sour cream has about 60 calories. An ounce of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has only 15 to 20 calories.
- Cheers to Wine Spritzer: The easiest way to cut unnecessary calories this season is to cut back on alcohol. For a portion-controlled alternative that will help you save calories, replace 2 ounces of wine with club soda. Since a 5-ounce glass of red or white wine has about 150 calories, and club soda has no calories, replacing just two ounces of the wine already saves you 60 calories!
- Roast Your Sweet Potatoes: Instead of serving candied yams, which have 215 calories per half-cup, try oven-roasted sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and other meals. A 3/4-cup serving of sweet potatoes brushed with a little canola or olive oil is only 100 calories. You will get more potatoes for fewer calories, as well as a healthy helping of vitamins and nutrients from the potatoes, and a dose of monounsaturated fat from the oil.
- Skip the Dark Meat: The dark meat in your Thanksgiving turkey has about twice the fat of turkey breast and about 40 percent more calories. Stick with the lean, healthy white meat!
- Try Homemade Stuffing: For a healthy holiday, skip the store-bought stuffing and make your own stuffing, using plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grain bread. Skip the butter and use a bit of olive oil or canola oil and plenty of low sodium chicken broth.
- Eat Cranberry in a Relish: Most cranberry sauces contain a ton of sugar – and the canned stuff is full of corn syrup. To get more of that cranberry flavor and less of the sugar, make a homemade relish by combing fresh cranberries, some citrus, and just a bit of sugar or stevia in a food processor.
- Switch Up the Casserole: To make your green bean casserole a healthy holiday choice, instead of using full-fat cream of mushroom soup, use a reduced-fat version of the soup and you’ll save at least 40 calories per half-cup serving. Better yet, skip the soup and French-fried onions — just cut and steam fresh green beans and sprinkle them with slivered almonds before serving.
- Skip Pecan Pie, Eat Pumpkin Pie: It’s hard to resist holiday desserts but you can save about 200 calories by choosing pumpkin pie (300 calories a slice) over pecan pie (about 500 calories). Neither is exactly eating healthy, but with the pumpkin you’re getting lots of vitamin A, calcium and iron.