Eating healthy during the holidays

Try these tips to help make your holiday meals more nutritious.

Traditional holiday foods are not known for their low calories or healthy ingredients. Here are some suggestions for ways to eat healthier and still enjoy traditional foods during holiday meals. Michigan State University Extension recommends substituting healthier ingredients in high-calorie recipes that can lower the fat, salt and sugar content.

If possible, avoid recipes that use refined or processed sugars, such as table sugar, brown sugar, corn sweeteners, corn syrup, honey and molasses. Try to use more fresh fruits or purchase canned fruits that are packed in water or their juice. Limit jams, jellies or candies made with processed sugars. Substitute dried fruits for candy. 

Reduce sodium (salt) intake by using mixtures of herbs and spices instead and onion and garlic powder instead of onion and garlic salt. For recipes in which salt is only providing taste, reduce the amount or omit completely. 

Reduce total fat by using evaporated skim milk for cream when mixing whipped topping. The evaporated milk, mixing bowl and beaters must be well chilled for milk to whip. Substituting plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt for sour cream in baking recipes or sauces will lower the fat content. Alternatives to frying include roasting, baking, braising, stewing, poaching, grilling, broiling, sautéing, stir-frying, or microwaving. Healthier choices of oils include corn, soybean, safflower, canola, sunflower, cottonseed, sesame seed, peanut or olive. Reduce saturated fat by removing the skin of the chicken and other poultry products and use leaner cuts of meat and cut away visible fat. 

The use of whole grains, such as whole-wheat breads and cereals will increase your intake of dietary fiber.  Serve fresh fruit as appetizers or with salads or desserts. Include vegetables in your menu or as ingredients for dips, soups or cooked dishes. 

By reducing the portion or serving size, you can still enjoy high-calorie foods. Many of your favorite recipes can be modified to make them more nutrienti dense and lower in fat by reducing or substituting ingredients that are more acceptable. Instead of modifying your existing recipes, you can also find other recipes that are similar to yours that have less fat or sugar and more nutritious ingredients. Remember recipes are only guidelines for preparing food. Do not be afraid to experiment!  

Did you find this article useful?

You Might Also Be Interested In