The holidays are often perceived as an excuse to eat anything you want, even if it isn't always the healthiest option. You might not think it's a huge deal to break the rules for a few weeks (or longer), but the average American can do so from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, according to.
While gaining a pound or two isn't disastrous, there are additional health concerns, such as saturated fats found in heavy creams and butter, which can elevate cholesterol levels. With that in mind, you don't have to refrain from indulging this season; instead, make some healthy substitutions that are still flavorful. Here are a few ideas...
Greek Yogurt vs. Sour Cream
Many holiday dishes include sour cream to create that creamy, warming flavour that makes us forget how chilly it is outside. It can be used to make a sauce or added to mashed potatoes, and we don't have to tell you how great that is.
While sour cream has 193 calories per 100 grammes, you can cut that amount down while still getting the creamy texture by substituting plain Greek yoghurt. You won't be able to notice the difference once it's mixed in with the other ingredients and seasoning, and according to the same site, this yoghurt contains only 59 calories per 100 grammes.
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Roasted Sweet Potatoes vs. Candied Yams
Candied yams, which are sweet potatoes that have been essentially candied with brown sugar (and butter), are unquestionably delectable. However, according to, each 1/2-cup serving of candied potatoes contains 215 calories.
Roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with "a little heart-healthy canola or olive oil" are only 100 calories per 3/4 cup, according to the source, and you'll get the added advantage of monounsaturated fat from the oil as well as the vitamins and nutrients associated with sweet potatoes. When compared to boiling, roasting the potatoes brings out more of the natural sweetness.
Mashed Cauliflower vs. Mashed Potatoes
We already know what you're thinking: "Give up mashed potatoes?" We understand that white potatoes are a vital part of the Christmas meal, but we're also here to remind you that they're high in carbs and starch - and there's a way to replace them with something healthier without sacrificing flavour.
Mash cauliflower is the answer! You can create them with a consistency similar to mashed potatoes while lowering the calories per 1/2-cup (67.1 vs. 14.3 according to ). According to the same source, the cauliflower version outperforms white potatoes in terms of carbohydrates (15.6 vs. 2.5 grammes per serving), while coming close to equal potatoes in terms of protein content.
Cinnamon Tea vs. Hot Chocolate
There are few things that are more comforting and scream "holidays!" than a delicious mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. However, you're probably not considering the amount of sugar in a cup, which may be rather high if you prepare it from a packet (or order a fancier version from a café, which can include 62 grammes of sugar, according to ).
Instead, when you sense a craving building on, brew a wonderful cup of tea. The modest spiciness will still warm you from the inside out, but limited studies suggest cinnamon may help decrease blood glucose (and even cholesterol), according to.
Gingerbread vs. Fruitcake
Many individuals, it appears, still consume fruit cake, a habit that dates back to the Middle Ages. However, it's perhaps no surprise that the rich, spirit-soaked fruitcake packed with dried fruit is high in calories, with 324 calories per 100 grammes, according to the USDA.
Instead, opt for a gingerbread loaf throughout the holidays, according to. This variation includes many of the same flavours as traditional fruitcake, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, but with "far less sugar," according to the recipe. If you want to prepare something special for the holidays, the site also has a pumpkin gingerbread loaf recipe.
Zucchini Noodles compared. Traditional Pasta
Pasta is always a hit because it's tasty, filling, and economical (unless you order it from a nice Italian restaurant). Pasta, on the other hand, is a popular way to start holiday meals, and rich sauces and creams are frequently used to provide texture and flavour.
Instead of normal pasta noodles, Health.com recommends using “,” often known as “zoodles” (not to be confused with the popular canned pasta for kids). This variation, according to the source, has the same tomato and garlic flavour while also reducing “empty carbs” (25 grammes per 100 grammes in conventional pasta vs. 3.1 grammes per 100 grammes in zucchini) and increasing fibre.
Vegan Mushroom Gravy compared. Regular Gravy
It's easy to get carried away with conventional gravy, which can contain a variety of items such as meat, wheat, stock, butter, and a variety of other things. Although it may not appear like piling on the gravy is harmful, SpoonUniversity.com adds that it contains a “good amount of fat and sodium.”
While these items are potentially harmful to your health, the article claims that there is a vegan substitute that may be drizzled over your meal. To accentuate the “umami” flavour consumers associate with a good gravy, this alternative gravy incorporates mushrooms, red wine, and soy sauce. “It will also satisfy any vegetarian or vegan guests you may have,” the source says.
Champagne vs. Eggnog
This one caught us off guard because the source proposes substituting an alcoholic beverage for a non-alcoholic beverage that is popular during the holidays. However, a cup of alcohol-free eggnog has roughly 350 calories and 19 grammes of fat, not to mention 21 grammes of sugar, which justifies the shift.
It recommends champagne instead because it contains far fewer of those ingredients, and the frothy aspect of the drink will help you take slower sips. It does caution that the carbonation “may cause you to bloat a little,” and that there are other things to consider when it comes to alcoholic beverages.
Dark Turkey Meat vs. White Turkey Meat: What's the Difference?
So, if you don't want to throw out the meat from your Christmas dinner, that's fine. However, according to EveryDay Health, there are methods to substitute holiday favourites like turkey without compromising the flavour, such as presenting white meat instead of dark.
According to the site, black flesh has around 2-times more fat than white turkey breast, as well as about 40% more calories. For a better contrast, a 3.5-ounce portion of dark meat (skin on) has roughly 230 calories, while the same amount of white meat has about 160 calories (which also has less saturated fat according to the source).
Pumpkin Pie vs. Pecan Pie
Let's not pretend that you won't be eating a lot of desserts in the near future. With that in mind, the way you finish your meal can make a major difference in the total number of calories you consume and the other things you don't want to consume in large quantities.
compares and contrasts these pies by highlighting their benefits and drawbacks. It mentions that one disadvantage of pecan pie is that it might contain up to 550 calories (although pumpkin pie can hit about 500-calories when you pile on whipped cream or ice cream, it adds). However, pie has the added benefit of helping you meet your weekly orange vegetable requirement of two cups, as well as being high in vitamin A and lutein.