Feel Jollier All Season Long with These Healthy Holiday Choices

the LESS Institute Florida, healthy holiday food swaps

Content compiled by Esther Rodriguez & Ana Williams

The holidays are so close, we can practically taste that home cooked comfort food. With all the creaminess and goodness it’s no wonder the average American gains a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. Fortunately for us, this season doesn’t have to consist of dodging one food-focused frenzy after another. We can still enjoy the same delicious flavors we love, while cutting unhealthy fat and making a few tweaks to the classics – creating an all around healthier holiday.

Mashed Potatoes

Did you know that with every spoonful of mashed potatoes you serve yourself, you’re adding heaps of empty carbs and calories – and that’s before the added goodies like butter, gravy & cheese!? Stay light on your feet by making mashed cauliflower instead. It has the same texture and similar flavor – while staying a lot more belly-friendly.

Pies

Pie is an American classic, but try substituting one on your dessert table for baked, roasted or grilled fruit. If you’re a peach cobbler fan, try grilled peaches! This way, your guests will get the fruity sweetness they crave, minus the buttery, carb-heavy, calorie-dense crust.

Green Bean Casserole

Creamy green bean casserole is a go-to tradition for the turkey-day table (and a sorry excuse for a veggie!) With fried onions, butter, cheese, salt and cream of mushroom soup, this side’s ingredients are far from friendly. Toss in some oven-roasted Brussels sprouts for a savory, fiber-packed veggie or stick with the green bean classic, but sauté them over low heat in extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt & black pepper instead.

Creamed Spinach

Spinach is a source of a lot of goodies for our body – like fiber, vitamins A, C, E & K, folate, calcium, iron and more – but when we load that with saturadated fats, the whole “health” aspect is sort of rendered useless. This year, sauté those leafy greens in heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil and garlic, or toss a spinach salad – dressed with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with sliced apples or peas & toasted walnuts or pecans for added flair.

Stuffing

In place of a heavy, white-bread loaded side dish, try quinoa, couscous or faro-based stuffing to cut down on cholesterol, saturated fat and empty carbohydrates. When these grains are blended with all the other stuffing ingredients, you won’t even be able to taste the difference between the traditional vs. healthy versions. 

Sweet Potato Casserole

We know, the melted marshmallows and brown sugar are to die for! But this year, try drizzling your baked sweet potatoes with a sauce made from extra virgin coconut oil, maple syrup, fresh grated ginger and pumpkin pie spice. While the syrup adds sugar, it acts as an unrefined form of the sweetener, which contains more natural nutrients.

Sour Cream

Our holiday favorites that “require” sour cream – from mashed potatoes to casseroles and sauces – can so simply be made healthier by subbing in nonfat Greek yogurt. And there’s no need to increase the amount – just a dash of ‘plain’ incorporated in the recipe, and your dish is just as delicious as it would be with its creamy cousin counterpart.

What approachable healthy holiday choices do you make? Next up, we’ll cover “amping up your healthy holiday” – highlighting ways in which we can get foster a healthier seasonal environment.

Inspired by Health.com’s 20 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps You Need to Try

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