Healthy Holiday Recipe Swaps

Lighten up your holiday spread while keeping tradition and flavor alive.

618a2e7fe2e248e8b7d095d7a17d1697-huge-caAs the holiday season approaches, you’re probably looking forward to indulging in the classic recipes (sweet potato casserole, buttery cookies, and creamy gravy to name a few). You might think that allowing yourself to have these special dishes will derail your health goals. However, there are ways to enjoy the foods of the holiday season without ditching your healthy habits.

Give these good-for-you recipe swaps a try:

Whole wheat flour for white: Whole wheat flour adds a boost of fiber and heart-healthy whole grains to baked goods. The Whole Grains Council recommends a 1 to 1 replacement of whole wheat for white in scones, cookies, quick breads, pancakes, or muffins. For other baked goods, start with replacing 50% of the white flour with whole wheat. To make your recipe with 100% whole wheat flour, add 2 teaspoons of liquid for each cup of flour.

Greek yogurt for sour cream: According to the Kitchn, you can replace an equal amount of protein-packed Greek yogurt for high-fat sour cream in dips or dressings. Greek yogurt has a tangier flavor, so you may need to adjust some of the other ingredients in the recipe.

You can even replace the sour cream in baked goods with yogurt. Opt for full-fat Greek yogurt, instead of low-fat or nonfat, which may contain added thickeners that can give baked goods a chalky flavor.

Strong cheese for mild ones: Preparing a cheese platter or including cheese in a salad? Opt for cheeses with bold flavors (like Brie, goat cheese, or feta) instead of mild ones (like Swiss, Muenster, or provolone). Because of the intense flavor, you can use less, which cuts fat and calories without compromising taste.

Turkey for ham: If you have a choice between turkey or ham during your holiday celebrations, fill your plate with turkey. Turkey is leaner than ham and not as processed. Ham is brined, which significantly increases the sodium content. Just go light on the gravy to keep the turkey a healthy option.

Cauliflower for mashed potatoes: Instead of using starchy potatoes with little nutrition in traditional mashed potatoes, sub in cauliflower. It has a similar texture and flavor with a fraction of the calories. Try this recipe for Garlic Mashed Cauliflower.

Vegetable latkes for potato: Latkes are usually made with shredded potatoes. But you can use shredded root veggies, zucchini, cauliflower, or sweet potatoes. Replace half or even all of the potatoes with these healthier veggies to reduce calories and increase nutrition. You can also bake latkes instead of frying them.

Sautéed or roasted veggies instead of creamed or candied: Instead of adding heavy cream to a nutrition-packed, low-calorie food like spinach, try olive oil. Sauté spinach in olive oil and garlic for a just-as-delicious, yet healthier way to enjoy the veggie.

And consider skipping candied sweet potatoes and replacing them with roasted sweet potatoes. Cooking the spuds at a high temperature will caramelize them, adding to the sweet flavor without the marshmallows.

Whole grains for white bread stuffing: Go ahead and make your stuffing as you typically would, but replace the white bread with whole wheat or sprouted grain bread. You can even leave out the bread altogether and use healthy grains like farro or couscous.

Baked apples for apple pie: Skip the high-fat crust and make baked apples. Core the apples and stuff with traditional apple pie seasonings, like cinnamon and brown sugar. Try this Baked Apples Recipe.

Whether you make these swaps or not, enjoy everything you put on your plate. The holiday season only comes once a year. If you eat full-fat versions of your favorites, that’s OK. Savor them and get back to eating healthfully the next day.

How do you lighten up holiday recipes? Tell us in the discussion or on Facebook.


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Posted by Holly E Carpenter, RN, BSN on Nov 5, 2018 12:57 PM CST

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