The holidays can be packed with office cocktail parties and huge family meals, which is tricky when you’re striving to maintain a balanced lifestyle. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together a list of easy, holiday food swaps that can spare you a few calories while you’re enjoying the holidays.
1. Spiced Apple Cider Instead of Egg Nog
Craving a fun holiday beverage? Swap your glass of calorie-packed egg nog for a spiced apple cider instead. Not only does egg nog contain as many calories as a full meal, it’s packed with added sugars from corn syrup, and can be full of stabilizers, artificial flavors and colors. Sip on a glass of spiced apple cider instead and you’ll save 340 calories, 14 grams of sugar and 16 grams of saturated fat.
2. Pumpkin Pie Instead of Pecan Pie
There’s no reason to avoid dessert during the holidays, but keep an eye out for the healthiest options and enjoy in moderation. When it comes to pies, choose a slice of pumpkin pie over pecan pie. In addition to being lower in calories, saturated fats and added sugars, pumpkin pie is rich in vitamin A, making it a more nutrient-dense option.
3. Try Extra Turkey Instead of Extra Stuffing
If you’re going back for seconds at the big holiday meal, opt for a little extra turkey instead of a second helping of that stuffing this year. With 16 grams of protein, two ounces of lean turkey breast will help keep hunger at bay better than carbohydrate-rich stuffing, and it’s a good source of B vitamins to boot. Since stuffing tends to be moderate-to-high in sodium without much dietary fiber, it’s easier to overstuff (no pun intended).
4. Try Mashed Cauliflower Instead of Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a crowd favorite, but depending on the recipe they can be quite high in calories, saturated fats and sodium from added butter, heavy cream and salt. This year, try mashed cauliflower instead — it looks just like mashed potatoes, but it’s significantly lower in calories and higher in micronutrients including vitamin C. It also has a mild flavor profile and takes on the flavors of garlic and herbs beautifully. Check out our Paleo Garlic Mashed Cauliflower for inspiration!
5. Try Roasted Veggies Instead of Green Bean Casserole
Although a holiday dish made with vegetables sounds healthy, casseroles can be deceiving. They’re often made with heavy cream and loaded with salt (sometimes up to 1000 milligrams per serving!). So, instead of a green bean casserole, opt for a side of roasted seasonal vegetables instead. It’ll likely be significantly lower in total calories and sodium, free of saturated fats and a bit higher in dietary fiber.
6. Try a Baked Apple Instead of Apple Pie
Apple pie is a classic, but consider swapping out a slice of pie for a whole baked apple with cinnamon instead. At a third of the calories of pie, you’re also getting the whole fruit with skin on top, which is full of the fiber and micronutrients that can get stripped out when baking. Want to go à la mode? Try a dollop of coconut-flavored or plain yogurt instead of ice cream for a creamy, satisfying finish with far less added sugar.
7. Try Roasted Unsalted Nuts Instead of Candied Nuts
Holiday-inspired snacks and finger foods can be hard to resist during the holidays, especially glazed nuts. A small handful won’t do too much damage, but the combo of sweet-salty flavors and crunchy, chewy textures can make it hard to stop. Try a small handful of roasted, unsalted nuts instead. They’re free of added sugars and balanced in fiber, protein and healthy fats, so you will be less likely to overdo it.