Your hearts are bound to be full this holiday season, but your stomachs don't have to be stuffed with junk. With so much on your plate already, it's not always easy to eat healthy around the holidays. Ugh, what's a bride to do?! Whether you're hosting dinner or just bringing a dish though, these smart swaps will satisfy your cravings sans all the guilt.
Ditch the pecan, but have your pumpkin pie and eat it too!
According to Tara Roscioli, founder of Highway 2 Well and Meals 2 Glo, pumpkin pie is actually one of the healthier holiday dessert choices. "It's lower in saturated fats because it's missing that top layer of crust found on most pies," she explains. Pumpkin is also high in vitamin A and other nutrients and minerals. For a healthy twist on tradition, nutritionist Alexandra Shepard, mind body manager at Exhale Downtown Miami, recommends substituting refined sugar with coconut sugar or eliminating butter, white flour and cream altogether. "Whip up a raw, vegan, gluten free pumpkin pie with a date and nut crust instead," she advises.
Pass on the traditional breadbasket
Just say no to the carb loaded dinner rolls (we know, they're addicting!), and try something crispy and crunchy like chickpea pappadum, suggests renowned chef Franklin Becker of The Little Beet. Another scrumptious option is the Brazilian bread "Pao de Queijo", which although a cheese bread, is made with tapioca flour instead of wheat flour, he says. "You can also eat corn tortillas or 'cauliflower bread'. There are plenty of alternatives to traditional yeast rolls."
Swap high sodium store-bought brands for homemade stuffing
Turns out, not all stuffing is created equal. Instead of store-bought brands that are rich with bread, butter and enough sodium for three days worth of food, Roscioli recommends cooking your own. "Sauté chopped celery, onions and other vegetables of your choosing in 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil. Then add in cubes of whole grain bread, herbs and a bit of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth before baking," she instructs. "This version contains significantly less saturated fat and sodium and won't leave you feeling puffy and bloated the following morning." Whew!
Skip the eggnog and sip on a wine spritzer
Did you know that one cup of eggnog can pack close to 400 calories? Yikes! Substitute a 5oz glass of white wine (approximately 150 calories) and diet club soda to shave off more than half the calorie count, advises Roscioli.
Replace mashed potatoes with cauliflower
It's the perfect, low carb and nutrient dense alternative to starchy potatoes. To make your own, boil some cauliflower with a little garlic and leeks (the white party only) in salty water until tender, tells Becker. "Strain, saving some of the water, and place in your food processor or blender. Add a little olive oil, adjust the seasoning and you're all done."
Trade in the cranberry sauce for an apple cranberry relish
Loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, even 1/4 cup of your typical cranberry sauce can have upwards of 100 calories, warns Roscioli. Try a tangy apple cranberry relish that's high in fiber and lower in calories instead. "Chop up several apples and toss in a saucepan with a cup of fresh cranberries. Add 1/3 cup of water and an inch of ginger. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on low for 10 minutes. Now, allow to cool and then blend, leaving it on the chunkier side."