That’s what the holidays are all about, right? If not, it’s definitely a key contender. During the holidays, many of us get excited about what will be on the table, on our plates, and we have great memories of the traditional holiday dishes that we can look forward to every year.
But after the holidays, many of us are filled with guilt because of over-indulgence and this leads to the need for new year’s resolutions. Skip the diet resolution for 2014, and instead make some healthy ingredient swaps in your recipes so that what you are eating this year is a little bit healthier than last year. Indulge- and feel good about it.
1) Sweeten with Pleasure
What would the holidays be without cookies and pies? Or fudge? Or candied this or that?
Consider alternatives to the usual white sugar, brown, and powdered sugars in your favorite recipes and try some substitutions that rank lower on the glycemic index. These options do not spike your blood sugar as dramatically as traditional sugar meaning they are more slowly absorbed and processed into your system.
- Raw honey– contains a number of benefits in addition to its light, sweet flavor
- Maple syrup– great for vegan dishes and has a warm flavor
- Raw agave and coconut sugar– lower on the glycemic index
- Fruit– applesauce and bananas are great options for sweetening breads, muffins, and cookies
2) Embrace the Fat
I love fat. Fat makes me feel satisfied and adds a lot of flavor to foods. Fat is also essential to protein processing. Reconsider butter, vegetable oils, and animal fats and consider healthier alternatives. Butter is a key ingredient in so many desserts, but you might investigate Earth Balance as a vegan alternative to traditional butter. Fresh, local, and organic butter is the best option when you are choosing butter in your recipe.
- Avocado and coconut oil– these are great substitutes for oil in baked goods and contain important healthy fats
- Olive oil– this is a great alternative to adding butter to vegetable dishes, breads, rolls, and light sautéing. This is also a key ingredient for healthy dressings and sauces. Include a small bottle or jar on the table, instead of a butter dish, for guests to top food with.
3) Season Generously
Salt (with its partner pepper) is always on the table in many households. Instead of adding extra salt during cooking, or requiring your guests to add salt to their food, mind your seasonings during meal prep.
- Low-sodium broth– this is a great alternative to regular, high-sodium, broth and it adds lots of flavor to grains (quinoa, millet, rice) during cooking. Look for broth from a carton rather than a can which may contain toxic BPAs.
- Fresh and dried herbs– these have a ton of flavor and can replace the need for a lot of salt. I love fresh basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley. Dried rosemary, cumin, cayenne, thyme and fresh garlic should always be available.
To find more healthy holiday cooking tips and recipes, check out my EAT page and some of the blogs I follow.