The holiday season is upon us. And you won’t need to pardon a bird to know that enjoying the foods you love can absolutely be a part of a well-balanced diet and lifestyle. Yes, even during the holidays. Nay, especially during the holidays!
But if you’re looking for healthier swaps of your favs — whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner, pre-meal challah, or a light Christmas snack with the family — look no further. Here are five RD-approved swaps ready for you to try.
5 RD-APPROVED HOLIDAY FOOD SWAPS
1. LOWER SUGAR SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
As a child, mom’s sweet potato casserole topped with roasted marshmallows wasn’t just a crowd-pleaser, it was a delicious family staple. But we know this isn’t the most well-balanced dish at the Thanksgiving table. Instead of the typical marshmallow-filled sweet potato casserole, try recipes where the bulk of it is sweet potato (and a smaller portion of the recipe contributes to the sweet factor). This MyFitnessPal recipe is a great example: Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole.
2. BRUSSELS SPROUTS GRATIN
Think crispy fried onions, cream of mushroom soup, and tons of ground black pepper. Yup, we’re talking green bean casserole. But maybe you’re looking for a healthier alternative this year? Try a Brussels sprouts recipe where you can serve up whole veggies with more fiber and a little less sodium, fat, and calories. Here are two recipes that do just that: Roasted Brussels Sprouts or Brussels Sprouts Gratin.
3. CRANBERRY RELISH
It’s deliciously sweet, and a real crowd-pleaser. But cranberry sauce can be filled with sugar — giving your guests a good sugar crash after mealtime. If you want to test out a swap, try this Cranberry Relish from MyFitnessPal or this simple recipe for a lower-sugar Cranberry Sauce.
4. CAULIFLOWER STUFFING
We’ve mashed it, riced it, and turned it into pizza crust. We’ve done the most to cauliflower, and we’re not stopping anytime soon. That includes this deliciously healthy cauliflower stuffing, made using celery, portobello mushrooms, and yes, cauliflower!
Bonus tip: You can also simply make your traditional stuffing. Instead of baking it on an oven-safe pan, portion out your stuffing into a mini muffin tin for better portion management.
5. SKINLESS CHICKEN, TURKEY, OR DUCK
Looking for a leaner meal overall? Opt for light pieces of meat — think chicken, turkey, or duck — over dark meat for fewer calories and fat.
Bonus tip: Losing the skin will also help bring down the overall fat content quite a lot.
The holidays can be stressful and busy for everyone involved. With that comes a lot of food that may not be the healthiest. While we’re all for enjoying the holidays and defining your own relationship with food, there may be some of you who are looking for ways to better stay on track with your health and fitness goals. And we’re here to support those efforts all the way.