Healthy Holidays Foods

Easy Alternatives to Make Holiday Foods Healthier

This year make it a healthy and delicious holiday season with a few simple food substitutions. You and your whole family can get a jump on all of those New Year’s health resolutions, and you’ll never taste the difference. Best of all, these swaps are easy and filled with regular foods from your local grocery store.

Here are some of our favorites:

Instead of Full-fat Dips, Try a Yogurt Dip

Healthy Meal

Sour cream, we’re looking at you! True, it’s a tasty way to get people to eat more vegetables, but an ounce of sour cream has 60 calories, while an ounce of plain Greek yogurt only has about 20 calories, more protein and good bacteria for improved digestion.
To amp up the flavor, add garlic, fresh herbs, or a drizzle of olive oil. Besides adding taste, these ingredients provide important health benefits.

Say No to Canned Yams and Yes to Sweet Potatoes

Bowl with Sweet Potatoes

Store-bought candied yams are sweet, thanks to added processed sugar that bulks a single serving up to about 420 calories.

Sweet potatoes are a delicious alternative that still hits the sweet spot but with fewer calories and more fiber per serving. Baked sweet potatoes also serve up vitamins that will boost your immune system and promote heart health.

Eat White Meat Turkey

Family Eating Turkey

If you’ve still got some leftover Thanksgiving turkey or you’re serving up a new bird, take the white meat over the dark. The dark meat has more cholesterol, fat, and calories: instead of going for the drumstick, enjoy portions from the breast or wings. This applies to chicken, too.

Even if you just can’t pass up the dark meat, turkey is still a healthier alternative to hams, roasts, and steaks. If you grind up your turkey leftovers, you’ve got a much healthier option to hamburger meat.

Avocado is a Creamy Alternative to Mayonnaise and Cheese

Cutting an Avocado

If you’re looking to give post-holiday sandwiches some delicious and creamy texture, add a thick slice of avocado. Unlike mayo or cheese, avocadoes are full of heart-healthy fats. You should still eat them in moderation, but it’s a healthier swap for a fatty, empty-calorie tablespoon of mayonnaise.

Make Your Own Dressing with Virgin Olive Oil

Bottle of Olive Oil

Most store-bought dressings have too much of everything you want to avoid: too many calories, too much sodium, too much added sugar, and too much of the bad kind of fat.

There are so many healthy, do-it-yourself alternatives. Try lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, canola oil, a splash of vinegar, or you can try mixing a few of them together to see what suits your taste. Lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic are all low in calories, while olive and canola oil are full of healthy fats and antioxidants.

Also, see the suggestions below to whip up a salad that’s so deliciously flavorful, you won’t want to hide it under dressing.

Ditch Iceberg Lettuce in Favor of Tastier Alternatives

Plate with Healthy Food

Contrary to popular belief, iceberg lettuce really isn’t all that good for you. It’s 95 percent water, so it doesn’t have much in the way of fiber or vitamins. It wilts fast and – let’s be honest – doesn’t have much of a taste.

If you’re making a salad switch to heartier greens, such as:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Mustard greens

Besides making your salad much more colorful, any of these substitutions will add fiber, vitamins, crunch, and taste. Or instead, go bold and try one of these summer salads. All are healthful, delicious, and will look good on your table.

Canned Fruit in Light or No Syrup (Better Yet, Opt for Fresh)

Panned Pineapple

Fruit is sweet enough that it shouldn’t be drowning in heavy corn syrup (which is still sugar, even if it says corn). Skip fruit in heavy syrup and instead purchase fruit in light syrup, no syrup, or sugar-free syrup. You’ll save as many as 100 calories per serving. Or, if it’s an option, purchase fresh, colorful fruits.

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Fall Fresh Fruits And Veggies

5 Fall-Fresh Fruits & Veggies to Try Now!

Southern California’s 80-degree sunshine-filled days don’t exactly feel like autumn, but you can still experience fall in the produce aisle of your grocery store! Peaches, nectarines, watermelons and other summer fruits are beginning to give way to heartier fall fruits and veggies. When you buy foods that are in-season, they’re healthier, have richer flavor, and cost less. Try them as suggested, and they’re sure to become family favorites.

1. Apples

A Bunch of Apples

Apples have evolved from the Red Delicious you probably got in your school lunches, and there are many types of apples that have been grown to be sweet, crunchy, and more flavorful. You can slice them up and add them to salads, or bake them with cinnamon for a healthy, crunchy treat.

Choose apples that are firm and free of blemishes or bruises. Store them in a cool, dry place - away from avocados, bananas, or citrus fruit. To keep apples fresh after they’ve been sliced, give them a squeeze of lemon juice. This will prevent them from browning.

Benefits: Apples are high in fiber and vitamin C – so they’ll keep you feeling full and healthy.

2. Pumpkin

Pumpkin in a Bowl

Pie isn’t the only way to enjoy this delicious, festive food. Enjoy it baked, like spaghetti squash or zucchini, but ditch the butter and try coconut oil or coconut milk instead.

Benefits: Pumpkin is full of fiber and vitamin A, which is great for your skin and eyes. You’re also getting powerful anti-inflammatories that can reduce pain and swelling while promoting improved digestion and circulation.

3. Beets

Person Cutting Beets

Naturally-sweet beets are edible from their leafy greens down to the root. The hearty leaves are like spinach: use them in a salad or enjoy them sautéed with some heart-healthy olive oil or vinegar. Beets are also delicious raw, shredded, and tossed in salads or thinly sliced and baked into chips.

Roasting or steaming beets whole takes the fuss out of peeling — the skin easily slides off after cooking. Fresh is always best, but in a pinch, you can make a delicious, healthy side dish by adding olive oil and oregano to canned beets.

Benefits: Beets are rich in naturally occurring nitrates and may help to support healthy blood pressure.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Once you try a baked sweet potato, you may never go back to the plain white spuds again. During the fall, there’s a huge variety of sweet potatoes available. Any of the varieties make a great breakfast side dish, and they’re equally delicious in desserts and savory dishes.

If you do eat them baked, skip the butter and cream and try using healthier coconut oil or coconut milk instead. Sweet potatoes stay fresher for longer when kept in a cool, dark place. Toss any that’ve grown sprouts.

Benefits: Sweet potatoes are loaded with carotenoids, vitamin E, potassium, copper, and fiber. They also have fewer calories and carbohydrates than white spuds.

5. Kale

Kale Bowl

Kale is definitely having a moment! The superfood is turning up everywhere, from juices and smoothies to salads and main dishes.

Think lettuce, only tastier and heartier. Kale is so durable, it tastes sweeter when it is cold! Sautee it with salt, pepper, and olive oil as a tasty side dish. Add it to salads, tacos, or any other food that could use a healthy crunch. Unlike other types of greens, you can add your salad dressing ahead of time. The kale becomes more tender and delicious, not wilted.

Benefits: One cup of raw kale has only 8 calories and is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K as well as magnesium. Kale is also packed with fiber.

These are just a few of our suggestions. Check your favorite place to find healthy recipes – or get creative. With so many fresh fall flavors, the possibilities are endless.


Eating Until You’re Color-Full

Colorful foods aren’t just nice to look at, they offer a lot of benefits to your health!

Colorful Berries

Red, Blue, and Purple Food:

  • They can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, urinary tract infections, and memory loss.
  • These foods contain potassium, vitamins A and C, and folate.
  • They are known for anti-inflammatory properties, helping to protect against cell damage, and keeping the heart, blood, joint, and immune systems healthy.
  • Foods include tomatoes, pomegranates, berries, watermelon, cabbage, beets, eggplant, grapes, raisins, cherries, kidney beans, and red pepper.
Bunch of Lemons

Orange and Yellow Food:

  • They can improve immune function and lower the risk of heart disease, vision problems and cancer.
  • These foods contain folate, potassium, bromium, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium.
  • They are known for flushing out toxins and keeping the eyes, skin, teeth, and bones healthy.
  • Try carrots, lemons, oranges, corn, peaches, nectarines, mango, squash, pineapple, bell pepper, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes.
Green Vegetables and Fruits

Green Food:

  • They can lower the risk of cancer and vision problems.
  • These foods contain folate and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • They are known for fighting free radicals, helping prevent blood clots, and regulating blood sugar.
  • Foods include leafy greens like kale, spinach and arugula, green apples, limes, kiwi, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, green beans, grapes, and broccoli.&
Bunch of Garlics

White Food:

  • They can lower the risk for stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancers like colorectal cancer.
  • These foods contain potassium, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C.
  • They are known for providing essential dietary fiber and supporting the immune and circulatory systems.
  • Try pears, bananas, cauliflower, mushrooms, ginger, dates, potatoes, garlic, onions, black eyed peas, and white nectarines.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we should all try to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day in a variety of colors. So go ahead and fill your plate with a rainbow of fruits and veggies!

Easy Alternatives to Make Holiday Foods Healthier