11 HEALTHY HOLIDAY FOOD SWAPS
The problem with the holidays isn’t usually the weight gain — the average American gains only one or two pounds in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s — it’s the fact that most people never lose the excess pounds. So in five years you may have gained 10 pounds and in 10 years, 20 pounds. The best course of action? Stop weight gain before it starts.
The key is eating healthy throughout the holiday season and remembering portion control when it comes to your it-wouldn’t-be-Thanksgiving-or-Christmas-without-them foods. For the rest of the courses, all you have to do is make the right choices that will allow you to indulge and enjoy, yet keep you from loading up on the fatty, high-calories dishes that can quickly lead to unwanted weight gain.
1. Skip Full-Fat Dips, Eat Yogurt Dips
Start with those Thanksgiving appetizers. With so much of the meal yet to come, why waste calories on dips made with full-fat sour cream? Substitute low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt or nonfat sour cream for regular sour cream in all of your recipes this season, and no one will be the wiser. To put it in perspective: An ounce of sour cream has about 60 calories. An ounce of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has only 15 to 20 calories, and an ounce of nonfat sour cream has about 25. The savings from even a few small scoops quickly add up.
2. Skip Some Alcohol Calories, Drink Wine Spritzer
The easiest way to cut unnecessary calories this season is to cut back on alcohol. For a portion-controlled alternative that will help you save calories, replace 2 ounces of wine with club soda. Since a 5-ounce glass of red or white wine has about 150 calories, and club soda has no calories, replacing just two ounces of the wine already saves you 60 calories toward another slice of pie. “You’re still able to be festive and enjoy an adult beverage with your friends and family — just with a lot fewer calories,” says Marisa Moore, RD, LD, an Atlanta dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
3. Skip Candied Yams, Eat Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Instead of serving candied yams, which have 215 calories per half-cup, try oven-roasted sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and other meals. A 3/4-cup serving of sweet potatoes brushed with a little heart-healthy canola or olive oil is only 100 calories. Not only do you get more potatoes for fewer calories, but also you’ll also get a healthy helping of vitamins and nutrients from the potatoes, and a dose of monounsaturated fat from the oil. “I recommend roasting over boiling the sweet potatoes because it brings out their natural sweetness and you don’t have to add as much to [enhance] them,” Moore says.
4. Skip Dark Meat, Eat White Meat Turkey
The dark meat in your Thanksgiving turkey has about twice the fat of turkey breast and about 40 percent more calories. A 3.5-ounce portion of dark meat (about the size of a deck of cards) with the skin on has about 230 calories. The same amount of turkey breast without the skin is only about 160 calories, cutting about 70 calories as well as saturated fat— that’s eating healthy as long as you stick to portion control.
5. Skip Store-Bought, Eat Homemade Stuffing
What would the holidays be without stuffing? But it doesn’t have to be the unhealthy store-bought stuffing that’s prepared with butter and cubes of white bread. For a healthy holiday, make your own stuffing. Simply sauté celery and onions and other cubed vegetables of your choosing (from carrots to water chestnuts) in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive or canola oil. Combine the mixture with cubes of whole-grain bread, moisten with no- or low-sodium chicken broth, and add your favorite herbs before baking. This eating-healthyversion has less fat, more fiber, and more flavor.
6. Skip Traditional Gravy, Eat Low-Fat Gravy
Turkey gravy is another recipe that can you can use to be healthy without losing taste, says Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RD, LDN, an instructor at Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. You can make tasty Thanksgiving gravy with 1 cup of fat-free turkey broth, 2 tablespoons of flour, and seasonings to taste. If you still want to use the drippings from the roasting pan, remove the fat first (use a fat-separator cup or place the drippings in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes and then skim off the fat that rises to the top). In a hurry? Use a paper towel to soak up the fat. This will help with eating healthy, but you still should remember portion control because gravy calories can add up fast.
7. Skip Cranberry Sauce, Eat Cranberry Relish
That can of cranberry sauce you open at Thanksgiving is full of sugar, corn syrup, and other added sweeteners. Even exercising portion control may not help — just a fourth of a cup of the canned stuff can have more than 100 calories. Make your own cranberry relish and cut out some of the sugar for a healthy holiday side dish. “Most recipes call for more sugar than you need,” Moore says. “You can probably cut the sugar back by one-fourth to one-third.” Or save even more calories by using sugar substitutes such as Splenda or stevia. A third of a cup of cranberry sauce made with sugar substitute has only about 25 calories.
8. Skip the Casserole, Eat Fresh Green Beans
To make your green bean casserole a healthy holiday choice, instead of using full-fat cream of mushroom soup, use a reduced-fat version of the soup and you’ll save at least 40 calories per half-cup serving. Better yet, skip the soup and French-fried onions — just cut and steam fresh green beans and sprinkle them with slivered almonds before serving. “Eat your veggies first because they're lower in calories,” Moore advises. “They will help fill you up, and you’ll want to eat less of the higher-calorie foods.”
9. Skip White Flour Rolls, Eat Whole-Wheat Rolls
At 100 to 200 calories each, dinner rolls are an easy item to skip if you’re aiming for a healthy holiday, especially if you’re eating carbohydrate-packed stuffing. If you’re doing the cooking and still want bread with your meal, consider replacing the white flour in your favorite recipe for whole wheat. If you make cornbread or another recipe that calls for whole milk, replace the full-fat milk with low-fat buttermilk or thinned plain yogurt. Experiment with less sugar and oil than the recipe calls for — chances are, you won’t miss it. A word to the wise: Test your healthy-eating recipes before company comes, Dobbins says. You don’t want surprises at the Thanksgiving table.
10. Skip Eggnog, Drink Cider
A glass of eggnog can easily have upwards of 250 calories, and more than half of your daily recommended dose of saturated fat. Swap eggnog for a glass of hot apple cider instead, and instantly save 100 to 150 calories and all the fat. If it’s just not a holiday without eggnog, make your own with egg substitute rather than eggs, fat-free milk in place of whole milk, and sugar substitute in place of sugar — you can still use vanilla and spices. Leave out the alcohol and you’ll save even more calories.
If you still want the real thing, Moore says, practice portion control: Have just one serving, and then switch to something more diet friendly. One of her favorite tricks for a healthy holiday is to alternate between high-calorie beverages and club soda or a glass of water. “If you limit yourself to every other drink," she says, "you will cut your calories in half no matter what the calories start off being.”
11. Skip Pecan Pie, Eat Pumpkin Pie
It’s hard to resist holiday desserts from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, but you can save about 200 calories by choosing pumpkin pie (300 calories a slice) over pecan pie (about 500 calories). Neither is exactly eating healthy, but with the pumpkin you’re getting lots of vitamin A, calcium, and iron. If you really want pecans, Moore suggests skipping the pie and eating a handful of pecans sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. In either case, another option is to skip the crust entirely — that’s where most of the fat lurks — and save another 100 or so calories.
Via: Beth Orenstein