You can eat a healthful diet during the holidays with just a few tweaks to traditional recipes, the American Heart Association says.
“We want to help people overcome their nutrition struggles and pave the way for a healthful festive season,” registered dietitian Annessa Chumbley said in an association news release. “Instead of looking at holiday eating as a wellness obstacle, we can look at it as a chance to eat smart.”
Use “low-sodium” canned vegetables or try frozen vegetables. Replace salt with herbs and spices.
“Lemon juice, citrus zest or hot chilies can add extra flavor without the added sodium,” Chumbley said.
When buying canned fruits, choose those packed in juice or water rather than syrup.
“Fruit is plenty sweet without added sugars,” Chumbley said. “Speaking of fruit, don’t throw away those unloved, overly ripe bananas. They are perfect to bake with, adding just the right amount of moisture and sweetness.”
Use nonfat, plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. “You’ll be surprised how sneaky this switch is when it comes to texture and flavor,” she added.
Replace butter with a healthier vegetable oil or substitute equal parts unsweetened applesauce when baking.
“Cooking with unsweetened applesauce is one of my favorite recipe hacks, and I always keep it on hand for baking,” Chumbley said.
Use half wheat and half white flour. “Whole grains are a great nutritional boost and mixing the flours helps disguise the swap,” Chumbley said.
Use pureed sweet potatoes, carrots or cauliflower to boost nutrition. Keep frozen cubes of pureed vegetables in the freezer so they’re ready to use.
For drinks, add seasonal fruit to water. “There are plenty of ways to jazz up your drink without adding alcohol,” Chumbley said. “Try infusing cranberries, pomegranate arils or orange slices into sparkling water.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for a healthy holiday season.