Five Delicious Ways to Lighten Up your Holiday Favorites
There are many reasons to love the holidays! Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pecan pie, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie – need I go on? Unfortunately, all these treats add up to a hefty calorie load. According to the American Council on Exercise, a traditional Thanksgiving meal holds about 229 grams of fat and 3,000 calories, with Christmas dinner costing you as much as 7,000 calories. There’s a reason why so many of us go on a diet in January! Yet the basic elements of all of these holiday favorites are actually quite healthy. Festive foods like cranberries, sweet potatoes, turkey and pumpkins can be enjoyed with only a fraction of the fat and calories, if you cut back a bit on the butter and sugar. Try lightening your load with these tips.
1. Use cranberries and pecans in a side salad.
If you love cranberry sauce and pecan pie, you can combine these two seasonal flavors into one crisp wintry salad. Try tossing dried cranberries and toasted pecans with massaged kale and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette for a healthy take on these holiday treats. This combines three super-foods in one!
Image Source: Eunice/Flickr
2. Roast veggie side dishes in olive oil.
It’s a common mistake to load up your plate with veggie side dishes to try and lighten up your meal, but during the holidays these are often dripping in butter and salt. Try roasting carrots, brussels sprouts, or other seasonal veggies in a dash of olive oil and sprinkling of sea salt to cut fat and let their natural flavors shine.
Image Source: Sharyn Morrow/Flickr
3. Make wild rice stuffing.
Holiday meals can be a true carb overload, when you factor in the heaps of bread, bread stuffing, and potato side dishes. You can lighten up your stuffing by swapping a portion of the breadcrumbs with chopped vegetables, which boosts nutrients. Another option is to ditch the bread altogether and use wild rice in your recipe instead. This is much higher in fiber, and gives a delicious nutty flavor! You can look at nutrition courses like these to learn more about working more fiber and nutrients into the diet.
4. Season mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and parmesan.
There’s no doubt that a holiday meal isn’t complete without mashed potatoes and gravy! However, the secret ingredient in my family’s recipe for mashed potatoes is butter, and lots of it. You can get just as much flavor by swapping out the butter and salt for garlic roasted in olive oil, along with some savory grated parmesan. This gives you rich, restaurant-quality mashed potatoes without as much saturated fat.
5. Lighten up pumpkin pie with coconut milk.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie. Although the traditional recipes call for sweetened condensed milk or cream, you can cut back on the fat by using creamy coconut milk instead. This recipe from health.com is just as tasty and clocks in at only 275 calories a slice.
Image Source: Elaine Ashton/Flickr
Naturally, the holidays are a time to enjoy comfort food with loved ones, and you may have family recipes that you don’t want to mess with. But by lightening up a few of your side dishes, you can enjoy your meal and still fit into your cocktail dress on New Year’s Eve!