Trade in traditional snack recipes for healthier choices
The holidays are such a great time of year. We get to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while, visit family members that maybe we haven’t seen all year, and attend a few different social gatherings with those at work. However, while the additional socializing is excellent for our mental health (especially with COVID), it may not be so great for our cardiovascular health and fitness.
We often eat out more than usual, make larger, fancier dinners in preparation for visitors and have extra treats around the office and the house to offer people as they drop by. However, we can still enjoy the holiday season with all its delights and gatherings without undoing a year of healthy eating and exercise in one month. The key is to plan slightly, give yourself a break and have a few extra servings of fruits and vegetables on hand. Below are my tips and tricks for the holiday season to stay on track with my nutrition and hopefully help others stay on track with theirs.
Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!
- I always take a fruit or veggie to potlucks. In doing so, I will always know there is at least one healthy option to snack on.
- For veggie dips, I opt for hummus. It packs extra protein, is low in fat, and comes in various flavors.
- One of my favorite treats is homemade chocolate-covered fruit. Below is a link to a recipe. Dried fruit is an excellent idea if it needs to hold for a day or so. However, chocolate-dipped fresh fruit is best when prepared and eaten the same day. We also like to do marshmallows for a fun treat.
- Make a fruit rainbow plate: Layer sliced Strawberries, small oranges, green grapes, and blueberries or red grapes to make a rainbow. Add miniature mini white marshmallows at the end for clouds or cream cheese fruit dip. The rainbow display of fruit is always a fun hit at get-togethers.
- I replace oil in quick breads or muffins with an equal amount of applesauce.
- I typically can swap out a third of the white flour in muffin recipes for whole wheat or white whole wheat flour without anyone noticing or affecting the baked good recipe. However, if you increase up to 1/2 of the white flour in a recipe for wheat flour, you will need to add a little extra fluid to the recipe. This is because whole wheat flour soaks up more liquids than white flour, so more moisture is required to prevent the baked good from drying out.
- Most of the time, I cut and prep my veggies, but the holidays or so much busier, I give myself a bit of break with veggie preparation during November and December. Instead, I buy precut/prechopped and use more frozen veggies instead of fresh ones for nighttime dinners and daytime snacks.
- I have a few desserts I really enjoy and don’t even try to go healthy. However, I know that I will be splurging. Therefore I try to eat healthy snacks and meals throughout Thanksgiving or Christmas/Christmas Eve.
- I always have extra fruits and veggies for snacking because meals tend to be heavier and richer during the holiday season than other times of the year.
- A great ‘dessert,’ especially if there will be a lot of kids around: Jello! It isn’t fancy, but my kids love it! It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, but don’t forget to plan as it will take about 4 hours to set completely.
- Another quick, easy dessert that is much lower in fat and calories than cheesecake or decadent fruit pies: buy a premade graham cracker pie shell and fill it with your favorite flavor of instant pudding. Top with fresh strawberries or blueberries for a pop of color and added antioxidants and nutrients to get you through the stress of the season.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Bottom line: enjoy the season! Find your happy medium when it comes to how much you indulge. And, if you over -do-it here and there, be kind to yourself. Then, you can regroup and strategize before the next big event!