Holiday season is a time to gather together with family and friends. We catch up and make memories to share in the years ahead.
Hopefully, we will all celebrate for many years together with the ones we love and who love us best.
Unfortunately, longevity and plans for the future can be brutally interrupted when our health is compromised.
Eating mounds of food during the holiday may not be the best way to stay healthy for the future.
We CAN enjoy our family favorites with just a few tweaks to improve the health of our recipes as we enjoy our holidays now and for years to come.
Holiday Dinner Worthy Recipe Renovations®
Renovating our family recipes or even new ones we are hoping to try out at the holiday table for the first time this year are pretty easy.
The goal is to maintain their taste while improving their nutrition.
Substituting new ingredients or leaving some out of your recipe altogether is all it takes to renovate your recipes for the health of it!
Here are some easy ingredient substitutions:
- Low sodium broths (beef, chicken, vegetable or fish) in the place of regular, high sodium versions.
- Make your own broth during the year and freeze it for the holidays so that you can control the ingredients.
- Fresh herbs to replace salt, sugar, and fat give a punch of flavor!
- Use fresh cranberries in place of canned, which may have more sugar than you need.
- Replace wheat flour (or other whole grain flours) in your recipe, especially in baked goods (start with ½ and ½), to add fiber and other nutrients lost in processing.
- Make your stuffing with whole grain breads such as wheat, pumpernickel, or cornbread for added nutrients compared to using traditional white bread.
- Add nutrition powerhouses to the stuffing, such as walnuts, oysters, golden raisins, figs, craisins, or apples.
- Buy turkey without the added brine so that you can reduce the amount of salt you serve your guests — and yourself!
- Use cauliflower in your mashed potatoes (or just use the cauliflower, bet they won’t notice!), serve mashed sweet potatoes instead of white, use fresh or frozen green beans in place of canned for your casserole and leave some un-souped up for those who prefer the natural food, serve a side salad with homemade vinaigrette for guests who prefer not to load up on other side dishes, and forget the butter on the veggies instead add sliced almonds or herbs instead.
- Drop the bread basket from the menu, there is going to be plenty of food without it!
One of the best parts of a family holiday meal is the dessert. Most of the time we are so stuffed from dinner we eat the dessert later but definitely won’t pass it up!
There are many more nutritious choices for a satisfying dessert than the usual high calorie, sweet treats including sweet potato pie versus pumpkin, apple crisp or baked apples instead of apple pie, or making healthy bars instead of cookies galore.
Here’s one comparison but a lot depends on the extra ingredients you add to make it special. These values are based on one slice (1/6 of pie):
Pumpkin Pie / Sweet Potato Pie
280 calories / 250 calories
11 gm fat / 9 gms fat
40 gm carbohydrates (25 gm sugar) / 38 gms carbohydrates (22 gm sugar)
6 gm protein / 3 gm protein
130% Vitamin A, 0% Vitamin C, 4% iron / 60% Vitamin A, 20% Vitamin C, 10% iron
So you don’t totally abandon your healthy eating pattern just because it’s a holiday, eat smaller portions for the entire meal and dessert avoiding second helpings.
Taking a walk or playing a game outside with family and friends between the meal and dessert to help burn off the extra calories from your indulgences will help not just your waistline, but also increase your fun factor.
For more healthy eating ideas you can use year-round, check out my book Recipe Renovation® for the Health of It.