It’s that time of year again, when we get caught up in the hype of holiday meals and comfort foods.
Before we know it, January comes around and we realize those goals of eating better this year have been thrown out the window.
What if we could take some of those seasonal favorites and give them a healthier flair?
Here are some ideas:
Nothing says comfort food like a warm cream soup on a cold day. But let’s face it, most are filled with high-fat creams and cheeses.
Swap out the heavy cream for pureed root vegetables—potatoes, carrots, squashes—and add some plain, non-dairy milk or plain Greek yogurt for a creamy texture, all without the saturated fats. Or look for broth-based vegetable and bean soups. This can save you over 200 calories and up to 20 grams of fat.
Stuffing in the goodness
There are so many ways to find flavor without the fats on this one. Swap the bread for whole grains such as quinoa, faro or brown and wild rice.
Kick the flavor up a notch with cranberries, apples and pecans and fresh herbs—thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Finally, swap the butter for heart-healthy olive oil. Don’t forget to reduce the portion.
Macaroni and cheese
There are plenty of ways to improve the nutrition on this one. Swap the pasta for whole grain versions for added fiber or even try some legume-based pastas packed with plant-based protein and fiber.
Cut the milk, cream and cheese in half by adding in pureed cauliflower for some hidden veggies and half the fat. You could even try a plant-based cream sauce using cashews to cut out dairy completely.
Appetizers and party snacks
Healthy options for appetizers include veggies and hummus, fruit and yogurt dip, fruit salad, energy bites, cowboy caviar (corn and black bean salsa) or baked buffalo cauliflower bites.
Added sugar is not needed for this already sweet fruit. Try an apple nachos tray with sliced apples spread on a serving platter drizzled with melted peanut butter and sprinkled with dark chocolate chips.
Lattes, mixed drinks, eggnog, hot cider and hot chocolate—all fall drinks with high sugar and calories.
Liquids can be easy to overdo, as they don’t fill you up as much as solid foods. Try making your own lattes with low fat or non-dairy milk and cinnamon with honey.
Use spiced herbal teas or chai teas. Bottom line is to set a limit, or swap for a better option.
Pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole
Added sugars and fats are not needed to get the most of these fall favorites. Add pumpkin into oatmeal or smoothies.
Get your pumpkin or sweet potato fix with pumpkin or sweet potato muffins. Or, simply cut down on the butter and sugar quantities in the recipe and swap whole grain flour or oats for white flour.
Use the natural sugar in fruits to sweeten this dish. Add some raisins, peaches or berries to vary the flavor and don’t forget the cinnamon. This gives extra sweetness without the sugar.
Top with oats, nuts, cinnamon, and maple syrup blended.