Holiday Foods Can Be Healthy

The holiday season is a time to celebrate. And often celebrations include plenty of food and spirits.

But the holidays do not have to mean weight gain. They can include a healthy balance of food, activity and fun. Don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday dish. Take a walk or do an activity to maintain a healthy weight. And take control of what you eat with some advance planning. Favorite holiday dishes, for instance, can still be enjoyed if prepared lower in fat and calories. Here are simple tips to make traditional recipes healthier.

  • Gravy:  Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Then skim off the fat to keep the fat off the waistline.
  • Dressing: Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Also add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.
  • Turkey: Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 ounce serving.
  • Green Bean Casserole: Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
  • Beverages: Serve Holiday Nog: Blend four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt; and 1/4 teaspoon rum extract. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.
  • Desserts: Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.
  • Bring this healthy side dish to your holiday table or party:  Roasted vegetables A good way to get in more veggies is roasting them. Peel and chop whatever is on hand (beets, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, garlic, etc), lightly toss with olive oil and bake at 450 degrees until tender (about 30 minutes to one hour, stirring once or twice). This makes a great side to any meal and a good way to sneak more veggies in during the holidays.

By Blair Rathjen, PA-C, ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca