Healthy Holidays Foods
Healthy Eating and Exercise

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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Easy Alternatives to Make Holiday Foods Healthier