Pull a Fast-One on your taste buds!

Sneaky (and Healthy) Swap Outs to make Healthier Holiday Dishes


The holidays are nearly upon us and while that may be a great thing for most people, it may be a not-so-great thing for your waistline. Maybe over the summer months you even managed to drop a few pounds or get in better shape by eating more fresh produce or going for regular walks. If so, you might be worried that seasonal indulgences could sabotage your hard work. You're not alone.

From sticky sweet boxes of chocolate-covered confections, to sit-down dinners with platters of carved meats, gravy and butter-soaked vegetables, to creamy, sugary holiday cocktails, it’s no wonder our best intentions to eat in moderation crumble faster than graham cracker crust!

The solution? You can make stealthy, healthy swap-outs for some of those sticky, buttery ingredients and your guests (and your taste buds) will be none the wiser.

A few healthy-stealthy swap-outs

·       Swap out the cream-based condensed soups in the traditional green bean casserole with low-fat or dairy-free sour cream

·       Replace sausage, white bread and butter in stuffing with nuts, whole grains and broth or water (if sausage is a must-have, opt for the leaner chicken version).

·       Use herb-infused olive oil instead of heavy cream or cheese in veggie dishes.

·       Opt for sweet potatoes with cinnamon or even pumpkin pie spice over scalloped white ones with cheese, butter and cream

·       Swap Greek Yogurt for sour cream (particularly in creamy dips), I especially love adding chipotle seasoning or fresh herbs to Greek yogurt for those bread bowl app’s.

·       Don’t forget the mixed drinks – loads of calories can be hidden in a martini glass or mixed drink; instead of sugary soda or sour mix, reach for the diet soda or add a squirt of agave nectar and a squeeze of fresh lemon to lighten things up.

Accentuate the Positive

For the healthy holiday naysayers, brush up on a few talking points from recent nutritional studies to support your efforts. You may find a little education could change someone’s For your festive recipes, choose foods that do more than just taste good. For instance, pecans and other nuts rich in monounsaturated fat lower bad cholesterol, while peanuts reduce gallstone disease risk in women.

Cranberries, blueberries and lingonberries are strong antioxidants and have cancer-preventive action. Broccoli, cauliflower and other cabbage family vegetables also reduce cancer risk. Even chocolate and cocoa may benefit your cardiovascular system.

Don’t mask good foods with fats and sugar – especially when the original vegetable or grain is already delicious. For instance, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and potassium – there’s no reason to add cream, sugar and marshmallows to top the, off - Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet.

Eating/Entertaining at home

If you want to plan a lavish meal without feeling like you are fattening up your guests, try a few of these tips:

·       Cook the stuffing outside the bird to lower fat content. Add chopped spinach and spices such as fennel or sage instead of meat.

·       Whether canned or homemade, cranberry sauce brings refined sugars from the dessert plate into your side dishes. Keep antioxidant-rich cranberries on the menu by tossing them with butternut squash chunks, diced celery root or beet, sage, salt, and pepper and bake til carmelized.

·       Season cooked green beans, collard greens and asparagus with fresh lemon juice or fresh herbs.

·       Get out that immersion blender (or toss in the blender) and purée potato-and-vegetable mixtures to use instead of cream sauces.

·       After collecting the drippings, let them cool in the refrigerator; skim off the hardened fat on top before stirring into gravy.

·       Eat breakfast. People who lose weight and keep it off eat breakfast every day.

·       Take a walk before the guests arrive or after meals. Give yourself the gift of a little time to think, relax and rejuvenate.

Heading to a Holiday Party?

Here are a few tips to keep the calories and over-indulging at bay

·       Getting dressed for a party? Nosh on an apple or a handful of nuts before you go. Skipping meals beforehand is a surefire way to overindulge – especially at a party with limited healthy options.

·       Grab the salad plate, not the dinner plate and thinportion-control - take a moderate spoonful or narrow slice of foods you want to try.

·       Drink sparkling water, plain, or flavored with a splash of orange or cranberry juice.

·       Location, location, location. Try to socialize far away from the appetizers or buffet table.

·       Cut back on alcohol. It adds calories and could lower your resistance to overeating.

·       Give yourself a dinner curfew -  late-night eating makes you feel less full than eating earlier in the day and can result in a larger daily food intake.

·       Offer to bring a dish – making something healthy to eat - and share - is  a great alternative if the table is full of high-fat foods.

Be Practical

Even if you slip up once or twice this holiday season (let’s face it, Grandma’s Caramel Apple Pie is worth the calories) it's not a deal-breaker. You can still get back on track with your eating choices again. Remember to keep your portions – and your expectations – in moderation. Make one or two new traditions with healthier recipes, be sure to steal away for a quick walk or a few brisk trips up and down the stairs, keep a water bottle close by and to stay hydrated and you'll reduce your waistline worries this holiday season.


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Patti G.
Healthy eating isn't a "diet" - it's a lifestyle. One simple and nutritious thing you can do is put 2 tablespoons of Organic ground flax seed on your entree and reap the health benefits. Add it to scrambled eggs. Top off your bowl of soup by sprinkling it with ground flax seed. Add ground flax seed to your salads. By incorporating ground flax seed in meatloaf you are adding a touch of flavor and texture as well as the health benefit of helping reduce triglyceride levels.
Luann M.
I love the idea of switching our Greek yogurt fir sour cream. I can already feel myself getting skinny
Sandy W.
i dont cook much. i cook more for my dogs than i do for myself. i cooked turkey for all of this year. i dont add much seasoning because of the dogs. they love turkey. i cooked sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and some other vegetables. i love making vegetable bean soup in the cold winter months. i make a big pot and freeze it. i try to stick to a healthy diet. since it is just the dogs and me, i dont buy a lot of fattening things. i dont buy candy. i watch my sugar and salt content. i read the ingredients on everything i buy, even for the dogs. i drink a lot of hot tea in the winter and drink several cups of coffee a day.
Barbara G.
LOL I make a big pot of bean soup all the time. I am the only one that eats it. My daughter despises beans. Takes me about a week to eat MOST of it. lol
Karen B.
Great tips! Did not stay on the healthy diet. But back on it now. Here’s to a happy healthy 2018 to all!
These are some great ideas! thanks for sharing!
Susie F.
I like to stick to good eating when I eat and this means all year.
Barbara C.
Good article. Some of these suggestions I already do, but some are new to try.
Luanna H.
I love the article and all the great tips!! Thanks everyone!!
Tyleen M.
What wonderful and great ideas to eat a great and healthy meal!