Tis the season folks! As Christmas and New Years approach, the food, the wine and tempting indulgences are all around us. Instead of throwing all of your health and weight loss plans by the sideline (and gaining an unwanted 5 pounds), you can make your holiday celebration delicious by choosing healthier “cousins” of your old favorites.
To keep energy high and weight down during this festive time, simply choose food substitutions and enjoy a holiday feast guilt free. Options include
- Instead of white mashed potatoes try mashed sweet potatoes! Packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene, folic acid and potassium, sweet potatoes are a great holiday side dish that is nutritious and delicious. In fact, a medium sized sweet potato contains just 160 calories and offers 3 grams of fiber. You can also easily create a sweet potato martini bar with options of toppings such as low fat sour cream, sautéed mushrooms or onions and/or capers.
- Instead of white rice try quinoa! Technically quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is not a grain, it is a seed. Quinoa has gained enormous popularity recently due to its high protein levels (it is a complete protein containing all 8 essential amino acids) and because it is gluten free, it is a perfect option for those who are gluten sensitive or celiac. Prior to cooking quinoa, the seeds must be rinsed to remove their bitter resin-like coating, which is called saponin. Cooked quinoa is excellent in hot casseroles and soups, stews, in stir-fries, or cold in salads. The seeds cook very quickly and similar to rice (in only 15 minutes). Simply boil two cups of water for one cup of quinoa, put lid on pot and allow to simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. Remove the cooked quinoa from the heat and let it stand for about 3 minutes to become fully fluffy. Please see recipe below for a wonderful holiday side dish.
- Incorporate some alternative protein options into your holiday table such as edamame (shelled soy beans) or shirataki noodles. Shiratki noodles are low carbohydrate, translucent Japanese noodles that are also gluten free. They are mostly comprised of a dietary fiber called glucomann and contain very few calories. Although they do not have much flavor on their own, they absorb other ingredients well such as tomatoes or soy sauce. Tossed with a variety of vegetables, they are a good option for a holiday side dis
- Make healthier substitutions when baking. For example:
|Instead of. …||Use….|
|1 whole egg||Egg whites|
|Sour cream||Low fat plain yogurt|
|Ice cream||Frozen yogurt|
|Whipped cream||Chilled evaporated skim milk|
|Cheese||Low fat cheese|
Other healthy holiday tips that are also palate pleasers include:
- Offer a fruit plate for dessert that is loaded with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.
- Toss some high anti-oxidant wild blueberries or goji berries into your salad.
- Offer appetizers made with wild smoked salmon for a boost of omega 3
- Always having a veggie tray handy with low fat Ranch dip and/or hummus
- Including 2-3 salad and or vegetable options for your health conscious guest
- Having alcohol free options such as sparkling water and cranberry juice available
- Purchase whole grain crackers for your guests to use with dips and spreads
- When baking, experiment with healthier alternative fours such as almond, quinoa, kamut or spelt flour.
- When baking, add in some grated zucchini, carrots and/or applesauce or mashed bananas for an extra nutritious punch.
This holiday season, enjoy all of your festivities in a fun, healthy and delicious manner! Bon appétit!