HoHoHmmm, it’s tempting to turn to those not-so-healthy holiday foods to celebrate the season but the scale will thank you come January 1st if you think twice about what goes in your mouth and substitute, substitute, substitute. That’s right, there are plenty of delicious seasonal foods that you can fill your holiday plate with and still celebrate the beauty of the season—healthfully! Here are 4 tips for tapping into the foods of the season with lighter and more nutritious choices:
1. Holiday drinks: The worst … Eggnog. Heavy cream, sugar and eggs make up this frothy holiday drink. At 20 grams of fat (7 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat) and 400 calories for a single serving, this is one holiday treat that should not make your celebratory food menu.
Holiday drinks: The best … Cosmo 5-0. This holiday season remember that drinks count—they are virtually empty liquid calories that add up quickly. Toast the season with sparkling water and a twist of lime and you’ll start the New Year leaner and healthier. Or… try my lighter version of a classic cocktail…the 5-0 cosmo!
2. Main dishes: The worst … Beef Stroganoff. Heavy cream and butter added to the meat provides a high saturated fat content (15 grams of artery-clogging fat), and one serving, with noodles, can tip the scale at over 600 calories and contains more sodium than you should eat in an entire day. Why not replace this calorie monster with the lean and mean protein of the season: white meat turkey breast?
Main dishes: The best … Roast Turkey breast. At a mere 130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and a whopping 21 grams of protein for a 4-ounce serving of skinless turkey breast, this is one holiday food that should take center stage. Always add a side salad or half a plate of vegetables when enjoying this seasonal favorite to round out your holiday plate.
3. Side dishes: The worst … heavy stuffing. This holiday classic can add up in calories and fat, F-A-S-T. Stuffing made with butter and sausage topped with gravy can clock in at over 500 calories per serving.
Side dishes: The best … baked sweet potatoes and butternut squash! Instead of traditional fatty stuffing, make a healthier version by skipping the meat, using a fat-free, low-sodium broth for a base and loading it up with fruit and veggies like celery, carrots, apples and squash. Or…why not simply replace the stuffing with a side of baked sweet potatoes? Top with a touch of brown sugar and you have a sweet treat on the side for any holiday meal. You can also try another superfood of the season—butternut or acorn squash. Reduce the calorie content in high carbohydrate dishes by replacing the hearty potato with the lighter winter squash, such as acorn squash and butternut squash. Winter squash contain a rich source of dietary fiber to help lower cholesterol levels, normalize bowel health, and control blood sugar, as well as vitamin A to build and maintain healthy eyes, skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, and mucus membranes. Try my recipe of Sweet Mashed Acorn Squash
4. Pie: The worst…mincemeat. Don’t be fooled by the name, this is no simple meat pie but instead a tremendously high calorie dessert filled with butter, sugar, eggs and shortening. A single slice contains close to 500 calories, 18 grams of fat and 12 teaspoons of sugar (and that’s without the whipped cream!).
Pie: the best … pumpkin pie. Hooray! A slice of this holiday staple only has about 300 calories. Plus, pumpkin pie is lower in saturated fat and sodium than other pies, and also contains nutritious fiber and tons of disease-fighting beta-carotene. Bake the lighter version at home and you will still enjoy this holiday favorite while maintaining your health and fitness. If pumpkin pie is not your thing, you might consider this lightened up version of Christmas Snow-Dusted Mini Linzer Tart Cookies.
Holiday 5-0 Cosmo
Toast the holidays with this light version of the traditional Cosmopolitan vodka cocktail for just a fraction of the calories and all the taste!
½ ounce raspberry vodka
3 ounces sugar-free diet cranberry juice drink
Squeeze of lime
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Strain mixture into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish with lime twist.
Yield: 1 cocktail
- calories: 50,
- fat: 0 g,
- cholesterol: 0 mg,
- sodium: 1 mg,
- carbohydrates: 3 g,
- fiber: 0 g,
- sugar: 0.5 g,
- protein: 0 g.
Sweet Mashed Acorn Squash
Yields: 8 servings, 1 serving = ½ cup
- 1 large acorn squash
- 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons of walnuts, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons of raisins
Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Place the acorn squash halves in a 9 x 9 inch or 9 x 13 inch pan with the flesh facing down. Fill the pan with ½ inch of water. Place the pan in the oven and roast the acorn squash for 45-60 minutes until the flesh is soft. Remove the pan from the oven and let the acorn squash cool for 10-15 minutes before scooping out the soft flesh into a bowl. Add the maple syrup, walnuts, and raisins and mix well. Serve hot or cold for breakfast, dinner or dessert!
Nutrient Information per Serving (1/2 cup):
Calories: 82 calories,
Cholesterol: 0 mg,
Sodium: 5 mg,
Carbohydrate: 19 g,
Dietary Fiber: 5 g,
Protein: 1 g
Snow-Dusted Mini Linzer Tart Cookies
A holiday favorite, these remade linzer tarts are festive, light and nutritious!
You will need:
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup unsifted cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup Splenda sugar blend for baking
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ¼ cup egg substitute
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup raspberry jam
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk flours, king powder and salt together.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then pour into a separate mixing bowl.
- Add Splenda and oil and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Divide the dough in half and shape in two balls.
- Working with one ball at a time, roll dough on lightly floured surface until dough is approximately 1/8th inch thick.
- With a ~1 ½ inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as you can, placing them on the baking sheet.
- Repeat with second ball of dough.
- Place a thumbprint in the center of each circle.
- Bake both batches for 10-15 minutes and cool on a wire cake rack for 20 minutes.
- Spoon a dab of jam into each thumbprint impression and sprinkle the tops with confectioner’s sugar before serving.
NOTE: Keep dough as cold as possible for easier handling.
Yield: 25 cookies
Nutrition information (per cookie):
- Calories: 60
- Fat: 2g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 50mg
- Fiber: 1g
- Sugar: 4g
- Protein: 1g