Healthy Holiday Treat Hacks

Sweet Potato Souffle

Christmas time seems to be synonymous with eating tons of delicious food, but it is one of the hardest times of the year to make healthy choices. However, there are many options for those who want to include healthier items during your feast, as well as simple switches you can do in order to cut some calories or fat from your favorite recipes. Here are a few tips to please your tummy and your conscious through the holiday season.

Go Nutty

Nut flours such as chestnut and almond have higher fiber and protein numbers, as well as heart healthy omega-3 oils, while also being gluten free! Unfortunately they can’t be swapped cup for cup with the white flour in most recipes because nut flours don’t rise like typical flour. When making the switch, make sure you find a recipe that calls for the specific flour you’re using or you can go online and find an appropriate swap for that particular type.

Sweet ‘Em Up

Sweet potatoes are just as traditional as the classic yam recipe you usually make every year, except sweet potatoes save you about 100 calories per cup. If you roast your sweet potatoes and give them a slight brush of canola or olive oil, you get a healthy serving of nutrients and vitamins, while also getting a good dose of monounsaturated fat from the oils.

Salt it Down

You probably love to keep it salty, but to keep it healthy you need to start cutting down on salt. Also, cutting back or choosing low-sodium versions of salty condiments, such as soy sauce, mustard or pickles, is also a good call. Just remember: most of the recipes you’ll make will taste just as great with reduced salt, and there are substitutions that you can use like fresh herbs and flavored vinegars in order to give your recipe that extra kick in the low-sodium area.

Heavy Cream for Coconut: A Good Call

A lot of your favorite holiday soups have heavy cream in their mix, but a simple switch with coconut oil and you get about half the calories with the same creamy taste and texture.

Cut the Fat

If you want to cut the fat by almost half in your recipes, try switching out vegetable oil for fat free-puree of applesauce in breads, muffins and in boxed mixes for cakes and brownies. Other alternatives for vegetable oil are mashed banana and prune puree.

Vanilla All the Way

You probably already love vanilla, and vanilla extract is a great alternative for white sugar in your sweet holiday recipes! Vanilla actually adds more flavour than sugar, has a unique taste that goes well with pretty much anything and, get this, it has fewer calories. When it’s time to cook, use two tablespoons of vanilla extract for every cup of sugar in the recipe. This also works for poached fruit recipes too.

Pick The Right Pie

By choosing pumpkin pie as one of your holiday desserts, you get lots of vitamin A, iron and calcium, as well as save a lot of calories! For instance, a slice of pumpkin pie comes with around 300 calories, as a slice of pecan pie, as delicious as it also may be, has about 500 calories. Another tip is to cut out the crust of the pie completely, because that’s where you have the most fat, this can make the calorie count for each slice go down about 100.

Topping Light

Instead of using frosting as topping, go for the less guilty version of that, which is meringue! Made from only egg whites and about four tablespoons of sugar, meringue is super simple, absolutely delicious and goes with pretty much any sweet holiday recipe you can think of.

Stuff Right Up

Try making your own homemade stuffing with more fiber, less fat and even more flavor! The usual store-bought stuffing is filled with butter and cubes of white bread, and when you make it at home, all you need is sauté onions, water chestnut (or any other cubed vegetable), carrots, celery in one or two tablespoons of canola or olive oil.  Add some whole-grain bread cubes to that mix, moisten it up with no- or low-sodium chicken broth and then just finish it off with some of your favorite herbs!

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