Contrary to popular belief, holiday recipes don’t have to be packed with sugar and fat to be delicious. So this year, why not put a healthy twist on tradition? With a few simple substitutions and alterations, you can turn holiday appetizers, side dishes and desserts into a nutritious feast.
Appetizers are a common culprit for holiday overindulgence. Bite-size items make it easy to consume hundreds of calories in one sitting. Instead of sausage rolls or cheese puffs, choose winter fruits, such as oranges, apples, pomegranates, mangoes and kiwis. The colorful assortment will make an eye-catching display that’s as refreshing as it is nutrient-rich. Shrimp also make a perfect finger food, as they are slightly sweet, low in fat and high in protein. Consider putting a healthy twist on bacon-wrapped shrimp by substituting turkey bacon, instantly creating a drastic reduction in fat and calorie content.
Traditional holiday sides are to blame for a large portion of calorie consumption, thanks to their large concentration of carbohydrates and fat. Although vegetables are a healthy alternative, they often are prepared with heavy doses of butter, salt, cheese and cream. Instead of traditional mashed potatoes, make a sweet potato and carrot puree. Peel and slice the carrots and sweet potatoes, and then boil them until fork-tender. Then, using a hand mixer, add nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of ground cinnamon, a tablespoon of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. The end result: a health-conscious dish that’s savory, sweet and rich in beta carotene.
Although typically low on the nutritional spectrum, desserts can be easily modified into healthier variations. For example, instead of making a traditional pie, serve a healthy cobbler. Combine fresh apples and cranberries with lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and no-calorie sweetener. Make the topping with a mixture of oatmeal, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, no-calorie sweetener and egg whites. Fresh out of the oven, the warm fruit and crispy oat combination will be a dazzlingly dessert that won’t pad your waist-line. And, if you’re planning to serve the cobbler a la mode, replace ice cream with a non-fat frozen yogurt alternative.