Your Favorite Holiday Dishes, Healthier

By Emmy Bawden

We all know the frantic pressure to eat more healthfully come January 1st, but what if this year was different? It starts with being more intentional with your choices.

What does practicing intention mean? It begins with assessing what will actually satisfy you. If you’re satisfied with what you ate and are truly listening to your body’s hunger and satiety cues, you’re less likely to overdo it now or later.

Next, try asking yourself: “Which foods are too special to change, and which could get a healthy tweak and still stay tasty?”

With that in mind, here are my tips to add more nutrient-dense foods into your holiday routine so you can stay happy, healthy and balanced this season.

For stuffing: Sneak in veggies for more fiber and flavor — and leeks and mushrooms are perfect for this. Mushrooms are also a source of beta-glucans, a fiber that stimulates immune cells. Swap in whole-grain bread for more fiber and B-vitamins, chicken sausage for a leaner protein, and fresh herbs like sage for antioxidants and minerals.

For mashed potatoes: Try roasting a tray of beautiful root vegetables like beets, turnips, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, yams, red potatoes, carrots and onions with olive or avocado oil and plenty of herbs like thyme and rosemary. This will be lower in saturated fat than typical mashed potatoes with butter and gravy, and will be loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and prebiotic fiber for gut health.

For veggies: All intentions of eating veggies go out the window if the only option is a boring side salad, so my family started a tradition of having a side soup instead! We load it up with veggies, and you could even try blending root veggies or cauliflower instead of using heavy cream for less saturated fat. Cauliflower also is high in phytochemicals that influence your natural detoxification systems.

For proteins: Get fishy with mustard and maple-glazed baked salmon paired with a wild rice salad. It’s lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3s than red meat and poultry skin, and could add some new flavor to your holiday routine (not to mention, omega-3s support white blood cell production to bolster your immune system.)

For desserts: Keep your favorite desserts and change up the ones that feel less special. If pie is one of those for you, try a baked fruit crisp! Use rolled oats and nuts for a high-fiber and protein crust, fresh or frozen berries, and plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg. Opt for less butter and sugar, and top with a dollop of whipped cream instead of ice cream. For something plant-based, make a high-protein pumpkin mousse by blending canned pumpkin puree, silken tofu and honey, and topping it with cinnamon granola or nuts.

For drinks: Drinks like eggnog, mulled wine and cocktails with mixers pack a big added-sugar punch. Instead, try mixing your spirit of choice with an all-natural flavored soda water (Spindrift is my pick!) and fresh citrus peels and juice, fresh or muddled fruit, and fresh herbs.

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