The holiday season is rolling around again. It’s almost that time to start getting ready for the November funfest called Thanksgiving, when we all eat too much and worry about that ever-expanding waistline. This year can be different…Make it a healthier one. Remember healthy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste. Here are some healthy holiday tips that can save that waistline and taste good at the same time.
Healthy Holiday Tips:
- Reduce your salt/sodium intake – Make sure to drain and rinse canned food items, particularly vegetables. Use low salt/sodium versions of foods (i.e., broths, soups, and sauces). Reduce the salt use in recipes or use other spices that enhance the natural flavors of foods. The UF/IFAS Extension publication Nutrition for Health and Fitness: Sodium in Your Diet. provides great food and herb/spice combinations. “When the recipe calls for seasoning salt, such as garlic salt, celery salt, or onion salt, try using herb-only seasoning, such as garlic powder, celery seed, or onion flakes. Or use finely chopped herbs, garlic, celery, or onions (https://food.unl.edu/documents/November_HolidayEating_Webletter_10_23_13.pdf).”
- Eat more fiber – Switch to whole grains (i.e., whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, etc.). Eat oatmeal or whole grain or wheat pastas instead of white rice and regular pasta. When baking/cooking with all-purpose flour, substitute with whole-wheat or almond flour, or cook using half all-purpose and half substitute flour. Add more vegetable dishes to your meals or add vegetables into the meals (like in meatloaf, chili, hamburgers, stews and sauces). Add fruits to muffins, pancakes, desserts, smoothies, and salads. Beans can be added to items like stews, soups, and sauces (i.e., pinto, navy, garbanzo, kidney, etc.,).
- Cut out the fat or cut it in half – When baking, use half the butter or oil that is required. Substitute all or half of the butter with alternatives such as unsweetened applesauce, fruit puree, or a mashed banana mixture. Use low-fat, reduced fat and non-fat versions of products (i.e., yogurts, sour cream, milk, cheeses, etc.,). Choose leaner meats (reduce red meat intake and drain excess fat after cooking).
- Lower the sugar intake – Use half the sugar recipes call for. Substitute sugar, with natural sweeteners for example stevia or honey or add more spices. Use flavorings such as vanilla extract or almond extract to enhance the sweetness of food items.
- Lastly, use healthier cooking techniques – try using non-stick pots/pans to reduce the use of oils and butters. “Spray pans with nonstick cooking spray to reduce the amount of fat and calories added to baked goods https://food.unl.edu/documents/November_HolidayEating_Webletter_10_23_13.pdf).”
Healthier cooking methods can also be used such as baking, grilling, air-frying, steaming, and microwaving to help reduce fat.
Whatever choices you decide to make this holiday season, just remember you can eat healthy and have your food taste good. Make those holiday recipes healthier with simple substitutions and small changes. Get out there, get creative and start a new holiday tradition in your house.