More often than not, Season’s Greetings can turn into Season’s Eatings….am I right?
If you’ve been working on healthier diet and lifestyle all year long, nothing can undo all that progress faster than the delicious foods that come out during the holiday season. Between the pies at Thanksgiving, the potatoes and treats at Christmas and the beverages on New Year’s, you could spend the beginning of next year working off a few weeks worth of food.
Don’t worry, we’re not telling you to abstain this holiday season! But, there are ways to indulge in deliciousness without going into a sugar coma or blowing through a days worth of calories in less than an hour.
We want you to feel good this holiday season and beyond. And, along with staying active, stretching, and keeping your feet supported and in the right shoes, your diet plays a huge role in how you feel. And you don’t want to get left out the fun because of a tummy ache.
Here are some easy but healthy food swaps you can make this holiday season!
Potatoes for Parsnips
Potatoes are a popular side dish around the holidays. From mashed to scalloped to baked, it seems there’s no wrong way to eat a potato. But, if you’re trying to be healthy, potatoes are not a great choice. This root vegetable contributes starch to your diet but that’s about it. Besides that, it’s a lot of calories without many nutritional benefits.
Parsnips on the other hand, while still a root vegetable, are a great source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, folate, and potassium. This vegetable is just as versatile as the potato. Roast them and add a little paprika for some zing (and added Beta Carotene!). You can also boil them and season with butter and cream just like mashed potatoes or sauté them!
Ham for Salmon
Ham is a delicious and popular choice for the main dish at holiday dinners but doesn’t offer much in the way of nutritional content. Salmon is an awesome alternative that may match ham for calories but brings a lot more to the table. A lovely smoke salmon offers Omega 3 and fatty acids which promote brain and heart health. Why not make your dinner work for you this year?
Lentils for Meat
If you have vegetarians at your holiday table, lentils can be a great alternative to meat. Lentils have less calories and saturated fat than red meat and offer fiber and protein.
You can make lentil meatballs or even a lentil “meat” sauce and you might even get the meat-lovers seal of approval!
Stuffed Squash for Turkey
While turkey is one of the leaner meats and can be guilt-free in the right quantity, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need to ditch the bird. Try a stuffed squash instead! The beauty of a perfectly roasted squash, is that you can stuff it just like you would a turkey! Add whatever fillings you’d like in order to meet your dietary needs. Might we suggest this apple-stuffed acorn squash? Bonus: Squash is high in vitamin c and beta-carotene!
Wine for Egg Nog
Not burst your bubble but did you know that one (non-alcoholic) cup of egg nog contains almost 350 calories, 19 grams of fat, and 21 grams of sugar? That’s nearly the recommended amount of sweet stuff for an entire day.
Don’t worry, there’s good news. Red wine actually contains an antioxidant called resveratrol that can help prevent blood vessel damage and reduce bad cholesterol. It also has less calories. So, if you’re watching your sugar intake, a nice glass of red might be the better choice.
Or, try a spritzer or bubbly beverage — club soda has less calories and bubbly beverages tend get sipped slower.
Cinnamon Tea for Hot Chocolate
Another good beverage swap for those who try not to overdo it on the sweets is some tea instead of that hot chocolate with whipped cream. If you want to keep festive, try cinnamon tea which can decrease blood sugar. Tea definitely has less calories and sugar than hot chocolate.
Avocados for Heavy Cream
Sometimes the creamy consistency of our favorite treats is what can make them so delectable, but the calories and fat in heavy cream can bring on the guilt. To get the treat without the side of guilt, try using avocado instead of heavy cream in your dips and puddings. You’ll get a smooth and creamy treat but with all the heart-healthy benefits of avocado and it’s naturally good fats.
Sweet Potatoes for Casseroles
Bad news…the marshmallows and butter in your sweet potato casserole are pushing your sugar intake over the edge. The good news? Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A and antioxidants. All you have to do to make this yummy dish a little healthier is leave out the sugary stuff.
Instead, just pop these potatoes in the oven with the sweet skin on (hence the name!), and let it show off it’s natural deliciousness!
Now that you’ve tackled your diet, if you’re looking to make working out one of your new year’s goals, make sure you’ve got the right support in your shoes.