Healthy Holiday Meal Makeovers

One thing is for sure, and that is that holiday meals are meant to satisfy taste buds, not weight loss goals. Most dishes are laden with butter, sugar and other ingredients that can threaten your waistline, as well as your overall health (especially if you already struggle with conditions such as high cholesterol or diabetes).

Holiday meals tend to be emotional too. They are stark reminders of years past when you’ve enjoyed this special time of year with people you love. The food becomes just as ingrained in the festivities as other traditions, such as decorating your house inside and out with colorful arrangements and lights. So, how do you make holiday meals healthier and more nutritious without sacrificing the taste or depriving yourself of the memory triggers that make you smile? Here are some suggestions you may want to try: Consider Changing Methods of Cooking If your dining room table just has to have a certain food item on it for the holidays or you’ll feel cheated, then consider keeping this primary food but altering the way you cook it. For instance, if you normally make deep fried turkey, switch it to oven roasted and save yourself all of the grease. You can even inject it with herbs and spices if you’d like to add a little extra flavor (there are several options available, from Cajun to Italian herb). The healthiest cooking methods are roasting, broasting, baking and boiling. Grilling is a good option as well because the fat drips right off. Ideally, you want to limit cooking in lard, butter or grease. Swap Not-So-Healthy Ingredients Most everyone has a favorite dish that signifies the holidays. Maybe yours is your aunt’s sweet and creamy pumpkin rolls or your grandma’s famous breakfast casserole. If you make it yourself, you can keep the tradition without guilt by swapping some of the ingredients for healthier options. Here are some switches you can make that are better for your body:Oil – If your baking recipe calls for oil, you can use applesauce or mashed bananas instead. This one substitution can save you hundreds of calories and fat grams, plus it makes your dessert moister (and a little more dense). You may want to swap only half of the oil if you’re feeling a little uncertain about how it is going to turn out. Every little bit helps!
Sour Cream – Some recipes call for sour cream which has a lot of fat in calories in its rather small serving size of 1-2 tablespoons, let alone the cup that you need to make the entire dish. An almost exact swap when it comes to taste and texture is plain Greek yogurt. You can hardly tell the difference.
Flour – Although you’d never think it would work, one of the healthiest substitutions for flour is actually black beans. Yeah, it sounds gross, but it works!
Sugar – Not only does applesauce work great in place of oil, but it doubles as a sweet swap for sugar too. If you choose to make this substitution, just be sure to reduce the water in your recipe a little bit as the applesauce obviously adds more liquids than the sugar does.
Watch Your Portion Sizes There are just some meals or dishes that aren’t the same if they are modified at all. In these cases, you may decide that it is much better to make them according to tradition than it is to feel deprived. That’s okay. You can still meet your weight loss goals if you simply choose to not overindulge. When you’re putting your favorite food on your plate, take a reasonable sized portion of it and you can eat without guilt. Not sure how much is “reasonable”? When you use a Perfect Portion Plate or Perfect Portion Bowl by SlimPlate, you’ll know the exact amount to eat. The key to eating healthy isn’t absolute perfection – it is eating healthy a majority of the time. One treat or not-so-healthy dish here and there isn’t going to derail your efforts and may even be good for you mentally so you’re not tempted to give up healthy eating altogether. Find a balance and you’ll discover how easy weight loss can be. Not only is making these changes better for your body, but it also allows you to enjoy the food in front of you without beating yourself up afterward. How is that for a great holiday gift to yourself?