'Tis the season...for hearty, calorie-loaded meals and desserts. With the holiday season in full swing, and much of the celebration centered around food and big family meals, you may find it difficult to maintain a healthy eating plan. But there are some simple things you can do when preparing a holiday meal to make it more healthy - for you and for your guests. Read through for links to healthy recipes to get your party started!
Alcohol, egg nog, and cream- and sugar-laden coffee and hot chocolate all pack a big calorie punch that can derail your diet. Reduce the calorie burden by serving a festive punch of equal parts sparkling water and fruit juice. Spike with flavored vodka, or keep it non-alcoholic for even more calorie savings. Prepare a low-calorie egg nog, and serve after-dinner coffee black with sweetener and creamer on the side.
Instead of enticing your guests with high calorie treats such as cream cheese based dips, crackers, and deli meats, serve a colorful veggie tray paired with a yogurt dip or hummus. Fruit trays offer a sweet, refreshing contrast. Other healthy appetizers include shrimp, bruschetta, roasted nuts, stuffed mushrooms, and meatballs.
3. The Main Course
Build your party dinner around a lean meat such as roast turkey breast or lamb, or choose a vegan alternative such as acorn squash stuffed with wild rice. Speaking of wild rice, it makes a great dressing alternative to the usual bread or cornbread dressing.
4. Side Dishes
Healthy can really shine in your side dishes. Start with a big, colorful salad based on leafy greens, and toss with a low-calorie dressing, or even lemon juice and a bit of olive or avocado oil. Roasting root vegetables, such as parsnips, winter squash, and rutabagas brings out the sweetness without adding extra sugar. And topping roasted sweet potatos with a sprinkle of cinnamon packs a flavor punch that can be missed when they are drowned in traditional marshmallows. The same goes for sauteed green beans with a little garlic and onions (without the mushroom soup and french fried onions - thank you very much!) Roasted brussel sprouts are elegant and delicious. And if the usual mashed potatos are too much, consider serving mashed cauliflower instead.
Pies and cakes which are loaded with sugar and flour have been the downfall of many a diet. The traditional pumpkin pie can be made with Splenda or another non-sugar sweetener, or cut the sugar amount in the recipe. Leave out the crust, and cook in muffin tins for portion sized treats. Low sugar custards, cakes made from nut flours, and fresh fruits are healthy alternatives as well.
Enjoy your holiday guilt free knowing you have prepared a healthy holiday meal for you and your guests.