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Eat This, Not That: 5 Swaps for a Healthier Holiday

Elizabeth Hurley, MS, RD, LDN, CSCS

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is already well on its way!! With all the events and parties, the holiday’s present some unique challenges to sticking with our healthy habits and food choices. Two of my favorite tips for a holiday party are: 1) If hosting a party, make some of the simple swaps listed below for a few of the dishes and  2) If you are going to a holiday dinner party offer to bring a healthier swap for a traditional side item! This is a great way to enjoy your favorite holiday dishes, just with a new twist!

  1. Roasted sweet potato instead of sweet potato casserole.  If you love to indulge in holiday treats, like me, choosing a lower sugar side dish like roasted sweet potatoes instead of the traditional marshmallow filled casserole leaves room for your favorite dessert!
  2. Simple Baked Apples instead of a traditional apple pie.  This swap cuts down on the added sugars of a traditional pie dessert and helps get in a serving or two of fruit around the holiday meal. Leftovers can be used in the morning for breakfast with oatmeal and nuts for a complete meal!
  3. Roasted brussels sprouts with pecans and cranberries or a simple roasted veggie dish instead of  a traditional green bean casserole. Simple roasted veggies easily take the place of a traditional green bean casserole and are lower in fat and carbs than the traditional casserole.  
  4. Turkey breast instead of ham.  Choosing more lean cuts of meat such as turkey breast is a great way to keep those healthy choices going even at a dinner where you may not have as much control over what is served!
  5. Baked oatmeal instead of cinnamon rolls.  Holiday morning breakfasts tend to be a bit higher in sugar and lower in fiber than our usual breakfast, but that doesn’t have to be the case! Trying out a new healthy, hearty breakfast recipe like baked oatmeal or a potato and egg scramble is an awesome way to fuel up for the day.  We are more likely to make healthy choices at meals throughout the day if we start with a filling breakfast, and don’t go into the big meal hangry.

The take home of all these swaps? Stick with simple.  

Enjoying fruits and veggies with less butter, sugar, or other added ingredients not only helps us to stick with our healthy habits through the holidays, but it also eases the load when it comes to cooking for a big meal! Hope you enjoy trying out some of those swaps at your next holiday dinner! It’s important to remember that we don’t have to change all of our favorite holiday dishes up, just pick a few favorites to make the traditional way and then use the swaps for the rest. Enjoying the holiday without feeling deprived is an important part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle too!

Looking for more healthy holiday inspiration? Check out our tips on how to stay on track through the holidays and mindful eating over the holidays!