When we think of holiday food and drinks, all of our sugary, rich temptations come to mind.  Cookies, candy, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, eggnog, and hot chocolate are just some of the common holiday fare.  Although it is OK to splurge a little on such “sometimes” foods during the holiday season, too much can lead to holiday weight gain that is not a good gift to ourselves for the new year!  Therefore, here are some ways to create some healthy holiday cheer that you can enjoy while still staying on track with your health goals!

  •  Make healthier cookies
    • Use almond flour to replace half of the white flour in your recipes to add more fiber, protein, and nutrients to your cookies
    • Replace oil in recipes with an equal measure of unsweetened applesauce to lower the fat in your cookies while adding an extra moistness to your cookies
    • Use low-fat milk or half and half instead of whole milk or cream to lower fat in your cookie recipe
    • Use honey instead of white sugar for a more naturally sweet cookie
    • Add fruits such as raisins, figs, and cherries as well as fruit preserves instead of icing or chocolate chips to add fiber and lower the fat in cookies
    • Stick to low-calorie sweet treats in the candy bowl
      • The traditional candy cane is only 50 calories, so one or two will satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking your calorie bank!
      • Dried fruit such as apricots, figs, cherries, and raisins, as well as dried apples, berries, or citrus fruits are subtly sweet, provides fiber and vitamin C, and is only about 100-150 calories per ¼ cup
      • Dark chocolate-roasted or brown sugar coated almonds are a sweet treat that provides fiber, protein, and only about 160 calories per ounce, which is equal to about 24 almonds
      • Make your holiday comfort foods a little bit healthier
        • Use 1% or 2% milk to your recipes instead of whole milk or cream
        • Use Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream as a base for dips or as a substitute for some of the butter in recipes to lower the fat in recipes
        • Use 2% part-skim cheeses to lower the fat in your recipes
        • Use sweet potatoes or butternut squash instead of white potatoes for your mashed potato recipe to add fiber, vitamin A, and a naturally and subtly sweet flavor
        • Cut down on the amount of butter in recipes to lower fat in recipes; substitute half of butter in recipes with cream cheese, if desired, to maintain creaminess in recipes without sacrificing flavor
        • Flavor foods with sodium-free alternatives such as:
          •  onions, peppers, minced garlic, and/or celery sautéed in fat-free cooking spray for about 10 minutes on medium heat until softened
          • Paprika, ground black pepper, or sage for veggie or pasta dishes, rosemary, basil, or oregano for chicken dishes, dill for seafood and veggies dishes, or crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, or chili powder to any dish for a bit of spicy and flavorful heat
          • Make holiday drinks healthier
            • Use 1% , 2% , or half and half in holiday drinks such as eggnog or hot chocolate instead of whole milk or cream
            • Use natural fruit juices such as orange juice or pineapple juice instead of sugary syrups in cocktails
            • Dress up drinks with fresh fruit such as slice oranges, limes, lemons, strawberries, apples, or strawberries instead of covering the rim of cocktail glasses with salt or sugar