Usually during the holiday seasons we are bombarded with candy, baked goods, holiday parties laden with fattening comfort foods, and combined with cold weather that makes most people less active, we are in a dieter’s nightmare. Come January 1st everyone is looking to get back on their healthy tracks and get back into shape and work off all of those indulgent foods, but what if we never fell into the Holiday food trap? There are ways to make those comfort foods that you love, but just make them healthier and equally as good (if not tastier!). Here are a few holiday foods that ruin diets… and fixes:
Most dips are made with mayonnaise and cheese as a base with a couple of veggies thrown in there, and while they might taste good, and a couple of bites you don’t think are a big deal, when heaped on tortilla chips, you’re looking at up to 30 grams of fat and loads of calories!
The Fix for Dips
You may want to skip the dip or only have a few bites of dip with veggies instead of the fried tortilla alternative. And if you are making this to serve to guests, remember that you can always omit mayonnaise and use a thick non-fat Greek yogurt instead, and then add flavor with spices, and cut the amount of cheese that you use (or use lower fat cheeses.)
While they can make you feel so warm and toasty, and be the perfect starting dish for a meal, they can also carry a lot of fat and calories as many are made with whole cream…and it is usually unexpected how unhealthy they are!
The Fix for Soups
Clear (broth based) soups are usually much lower in calories and fat and can also give the same effect as the alternative (and much higher fat content) creamy soups. If you are making soup, and want a creamier soup, think about making a root vegetable puree soup, which is thick and creamy on its own without the addition of cream!
They can be such a yummy treat, loaded with butter and cream to make them decadent, and completely remove all healthy benefits of eating a vegetable (including that most people remove the skins which can contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients.)
The Fix for Potatoes
If you are making mashed potatoes, leaving the skin on adds to the consistency (makes them taste ‘creamier’) and use Greek yogurt to replace the cream and butter from the standard recipe. It may taste a little different, but you can jazz them up with oven roasted garlic (or garlic sautéed in olive oil), put chives on top, or make your mashed potatoes with sweet potatoes instead to add a whole new flavor sensation and more color and nutrients to your meal.
Roasted or grilled, turkey meat is very low fat but the skin is where we can be getting some extra (and unnecessary) fat into our meal. And if the turkey is fried, which is delicious, there is a much higher fat and calorie content.
The Fix for Turkey
Opt for a roasted or grilled turkey to allow for a good flavor without the added fat of frying, and to get some great flavor in the meat without a need to eat the oh-so-tempting skin, use an herbed rub directly on the meat before cooking and/or inject the meat of the breast with a vegetable stock and spices of your choice. Adding flavor directly to the meat allows you to enjoy it without missing the fat from the skin.
These beverages usually contain high fat and calorie content, due to added sugars and creams, and can have even more calories than a fried fast food meal. The unfortunate part of these drinks is that a lot of times you don’t know exactly how bad they are for you, and they don’t fill you up, so you are just drinking empty calories.
The Fix for Holiday Beverages
Honestly, this is one thing I will tell you to skip altogether. If you like a holiday inspired beverage, you can add peppermint extract (which has a very low calorie count, especially for the amount you would use) to your normal cup of coffee, or play around with other flavor combinations to create your own lattes! Eggnog can be purchased as “fat free” but it is still high in calories, and really one of those that you should really omit from your holiday celebrations, or just limit to one as a special treat!
While the smell of fresh baked goods makes everyone want to try at least one, and the holidays is when everyone let’s themselves have some dessert, even if they normally wouldn’t partake. We all know that desserts are usually made with butter and sugar, but just beware that many bakers add lard to their baked goods and/or frostings and you might not even know (because most people won’t even tell you that they use it!) Lard is a whole lot of extra fat (as indicated by the name) that you do not need in your diet.
The Fix for Desserts
Opt for desserts that are made with fruit or veggies, are without added whipped cream/ice cream, and limit yourself to just one. Also, if you are the one making the dessert, you can always substitute apple sauce for butter/oil, you can cut the amount of sugar that you use by baking with fruits or sweet vegetables, use agave or sugar cane if you do need an added sweetener, and you can also use wheat or oat flour instead of plain white flour to add some fiber and keep the fat and calories down.
Obviously there are some foods that you know aren’t good for you, but you want them anyway because you only eat them once a year. For those, you may just need to rely on will power to only eat one portion, and focus on feeling healthy: when we feel healthy, we tend to make healthier choices. Also, make sure to exercise, even getting in a walk after a heavier meal helps you to digest faster and burn more calories. And, if all else fails, head into the holiday season with a friend that shares the same healthy goals and you will help each other to stay on track.
In good health!