One reason it’s so difficult to stick with a healthy eating plan during the holidays is that everyone expects holiday meals to be special. They should be an honor to the cook’s ability with plenty of rich sauces and delicate pastries. Unfortunately, that’s not a recipe for healthy eating. How do you change that image without appearing to be a Scrooge with a bah-humbug meal? The answer is simple, focus on healthier recipes and ways to make each meal more magical.
Sometimes it’s all about presentation.
Why are the holiday tables so revered? It’s all about the melding of colors. From crispy brown turkey and red cranberry sauce to multicolored desserts and decorated cookies, it’s a symphony of color that’s as much of a feast for the eyes as it is for the stomach. The presentation has a lot to do with food satisfaction. That’s why many cooking contests and culinary schools grade it. After all, cooking is called culinary art. You don’t have to use food coloring and sugar to create the same delight. Just go to the produce section of the store. Incorporate ways to create more interest using the many colors of fruits and vegetables, like creating a turkey from cut veggies or a rainbow fruit platter.
Use substitutions to make your favorite recipe healthier.
If you’ve always used heavy cream in your mashed potatoes, why not substitute broth for some of the cream and butter? Creamy dressings can be just as rich and healthier if you substitute yogurt instead. Yogurt can also replace some of the mayonnaise or sour cream in dips. Olive oil can replace some of the butter and make dishes more heart healthy. You can even use applesauce to replace either oil or sugar in cookie or cake recipes. If you’re replacing part of the sugar, it makes them moister.
Reduce sodium by making the broth, stuffing, and gravy.
It takes some planning, but you can make the broth you use in gravy or stuffing. Most commercial stocks are loaded with salt. You can also reduce the salt by adding other herbs. Not only will adding herbs let you reduce the salt you add, but many provide health benefits, too. They offer antioxidant power and extra vitamins and minerals. You can create salad dressing, enhance your stuffing, and make vegetables fit for royalty you add herbs and spices to your recipes.
- Get crafty and creative with salads. Instead of the traditional garden salad, consider adding nuts, grapes, pea pods, avocado slices, or beets. Sprinkle in dried herbs and spices for added flavor.
- Use whole grains instead of highly processed options. Instead of white rice, use brown or wild rice. Opt for whole-grain breads. Include food like quinoa, bulgar, and millet for side dishes.
- Everyone loves dessert, so include it in your holiday meal. Make desserts with whole foods like apples, berries, cranberries, and pumpkin. Include nuts and whole grains when you bake them. Consider a healthy sorbet as part of your dessert menu.
- No matter how much you discourage it, people eat between meals. Have healthy snacks available that are nutrient-dense.
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