The holiday season is wonderful time of year, filled with celebrations, loved ones, and delicious foods. Considering the many treats -- both sweet and salty -- that we consume during the holidays, it's no wonder some folks gain a couple pounds here and there.
This holiday season you can still enjoy all the gingerbread cookies and eggnog -- with a healthy twist. Check out these recipes and easy tips to stay cheerful, satisfied, and healthy. Don't worry, we threw in a few dessert recipes too!
Healthy Holiday Recipes
1. Chickpea Puree with Creamy Mushrooms: This is a great dish to serve as an alternative to mashed potatoes, but you'll still get that comfort food fill. It's also higher in protein!
2. Balsamic Olive-Oil Braised Green Beans: Everyone loves a good green bean casserole. But instead, consider a low-carb alternative.
3. Cranberry Balsamic Roasted Chicken: There's nothing wrong with going for a chicken entree instead of some honey ham or a turkey. This recipe is full of flavor, and also paleo-friendly.
4. Quinoa-Stuffed Squash with Walnuts and Pomegranate: Try this gluten-free recipe that acts as a great substitute for pasta, with some nuts and pomegranate seeds to give it a nice crunch of flavor.
5. Zucchini Rollatini: This healthy spin on a lasagna-like dish is low in carbs, and generous in green vegetables. Zoodles, as they're called, often work as a great alternative to any grain-based carb, like pasta.
6. Vegan Pecan Pie: Cutting out dairy and eggs in this recipe will help keep fat and cholesterol consumption down, but it'll taste just as delicious.
7. Reduced-Sugar Gingerbread Cookies: This recipe is gluten free, vegan, and low in sugar. But still delicious!
8. Pumpkin No-Bake Cheesecake: Cheesecake is a rich dessert. But by changing a few things, it can be slightly better for you thank regular cheesecake. By using reduced-fat cream cheese, and a little less sugar, you can still enjoy this dessert while keeping an eye out for your health.
9. Peppermint Bark Fudge: We know it's hard to make a completely guilt-free peppermint bark fudge, but this recipe is low-fat, and uses unsweetened chocolate. Give it a whirl.
Tips on Reducing Calories & Healthy Alternatives
- Go with dairy-free or low-fat dairy products: There's a lot of dairy-based recipes and treats out there this season. Picking low-fat milk, sour cream, and other dairy-based products can help reduce your overall calorie intake and the amount of fats you're consuming.
- Control your portions. It's hard to avoid getting carried away with all the yummy foods at dinners and parties. Consider portion control to help you consume a healthy amount of food, and not the entire cheese plate!
- Load up on veggies. Vegetables are great to eat on their own, and also act as a great substitute to things like pasta and bread. Consider zoodles, or veggie-based dishes to cut down on carbohydrates and calories.
- Focus on lean proteins. Lean cuts of meat, like roasted turkey, chicken, or pork loin are great to add to your plate, and can leave you feeling fuller and satisfied. Try to avoid processed cuts of meat, like salami, which are high in sodium and fat.
- Go for the right bubbles. There are many festive beverages, many of which include a lot of sugar and alcohol. While it's okay to have a nice cocktail, consider drinking a flavored seltzer with a dash of juice to quench your thirst.
- Crudite your own way. Crudites are the vegetable platters you often see at parties or dinners. Instead of going for the honey-roasted nuts or bread rolls, eat some of the veggies instead!
- Exercise. This is a no-brainer, but exercising during the holidays can help you not only feel great mentally and physically, but it can help prevent excess weight gain. You don't need to run a marathon; it can be a simple walk in the park or bike ride through town.