What Are the Healthiest Holiday Foods?
By Brandi Goodman
The holiday season is often filled with festive treats, sugary sweets, and full feasts around the table. While it’s fine to indulge once in a while, the best solution is to find healthy alternatives that are better for your body. Learning what some of the healthiest holiday foods are to enjoy can help you make better eating decisions during a time of year when many complain about weight gain and fatigue after eating so much.
Does Holiday Dining Differ From Regular Dining?
Though many of the foods you eat on a routine basis may include some of your holiday favorites, you’re most likely making a lot less of it at a time. When you’re dining at your regular time, you’re making smaller portions only intended for the people there at the moment. During holiday dining plans, you often have to make far more food to accommodate more people. You may also add many more sides and desserts in an effort to please everyone’s taste buds. This gives you access to a lot more food -- and a lot more calories, including unhealthy ones.
What Are Some Staples That Could Be Traded Out Annually?
Lots of households include some staples in their holiday plans, no matter which holiday we’re talking about. Mashed potatoes is one of the most commonly used staple foods found on many tables throughout the season. Rather than using a boxed mix with lots of butter, trade these out for mashed sweet potatoes. A sweet potato has more antioxidants and health benefits than a traditional potato, so the orange alternative is a healthier solution for the holidays -- or any time of year. They are also far healthier than the candied yams you may be used to grabbing off a store shelf, which are high in calories and loaded with sugar. You definitely don’t need both yams and potatoes on your plate, and removing one from the menu will reduce your time in the kitchen.
You could also trade out some of the ingredients in green bean casserole for better alternatives. This dish is heavy on calories and fat due to the fried onions and creamy soup that is often used for the recipe. At the very least, you should opt for a low-sodium cream of mushroom soup rather than one packed with salt. You could even make your own at home. Start with a low-fat sour cream and add minced mushrooms and garlic. Onions can be added if you wish.
Pie is also a holiday staple. Most meals this time of year don’t feel complete without a piece of pie for dessert. Yet, store-bought versions are much higher in calories and sugar than a homemade creation. Making a pie at home with less sugar and butter is better for your belly.
What Would Make a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner?
A healthy holiday dinner for Thanksgiving can start with the same turkey as usual. Research shows that turkey is a lean meat selection that is one of the best choices to eat, only behind chicken and fish. It also offers a plentiful amount of Vitamin B6. Just make sure you’re removing the skin and cooking the bird with herbs and spices, rather than brown sugar and butter. Also, bake the turkey in the oven. You don’t need a deep fried version with grease and fat.
Add a side dish of sweet potatoes, a roasted veggie, such as Brussels sprouts, a platter of fruit, and whole grain rolls. For dessert, you can keep your pumpkin pie. The best solution, though, is to prepare it yourself so you can limit the amount of sugar that goes into it.
What Would Make a Healthy Christmas Dinner?
Christmas dinner is typically much the same as Thanksgiving. However, many people switch out the turkey for ham or roast beef. These are farther down the list of healthy meat options, making them less than ideal for your holiday feast. Stick with turkey or roast a chicken instead for plenty of protein but less fat.
Cranberry sauce is common at Christmas, and it fits in well with the nutritious theme you’re going for. That is, as long as you purchase cranberries and create the sauce yourself, rather than purchase the canned version. Add a veggie roasted in olive oil, whole grain roll, and homemade apple pie, and you have a delicious dinner that won’t leave you feeling as bloated and tired as usual after you consume it.
What Would Make a Proper New Year’s Feast?
The New Year’s feast is a little different for those who celebrate in the traditional way. The foods people choose to eat have a specific meaning, such as beans and peas that symbolize wealth and greens that symbolize money. Pork is also considered a sign of prosperity, while cornbread symbolizes gold.
For this reason, many create a stew consisting of ham, black-eyes peas, collard greens, garlic, and onions. Enjoy it alongside cornbread to envision a year of prosperity and good health for all. This meal is packed with a lot of nutritional ingredients and is far less to worry about than most holiday plans. However, the alcohol that often comes with New Year’s Eve and Day plans is the biggest fear. Avoid it if you can and stick with drinking an infused water with fruit that is far more advantageous for your body and mind.
Is Moderation Important With Healthy Foods? Unhealthy Foods?
Moderation is always the most important thing when it comes to both healthy and unhealthy food options. Even the healthiest ingredients can add up to more calories than you need if you overindulge. If the entire spread of food looks irresistible, taking just a bite or two of each item will help you keep your calories on the lower end while you still get to experience it all.
As you prepare to gather around the holiday table this season, make sure you’re switching out some of the high-calorie foods for healthier solutions. This time of year may be about gathering together with family and friends over a feast, but you don’t have to overdo it in the process. Enjoy your holiday meal with healthy ingredients and feel good about what you’re putting into your body.
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