Does the phrase “Healthy Holiday Meal” conjure up images of fairytales or Snow White singing merrily while her woodland friends do all of the work? Well, we’re here to tell you that a healthy holiday meal isn’t an unattainable fairytale…it’s real and it’s easy to accomplish! Now, take a sip of that hot coffee, relax and read on as we make your healthy holiday cooking dreams come true.
Don’t feel like you have to sacrifice your favorite things! The key is to find healthy ingredient substitutions for the not so healthy ingredients. Listed below are just a few examples of healthy substitutions that you could use.
· Cool Whip – Heavy cream or coconut cream whipped with vanilla and Stevia
· Mashed Potatoes – Cauliflower
· Baking Flour – Coconut or Almond Flour
· Gravy – Gluten Free mix or coconut/Almond flour made with butter or bone broth
· Gravy – Cauliflower, bone broth, garlic, and salt/pepper mixed into a saucepan, then blended
· Pumpkin Spice Creamer – Pumpkin spice seasoning with heavy cream or MCT oil.
Make your veggie or fruit tray festive by making it into a fun shape
· Choose dips like hummus, guacamole, and homemade salsa instead of cheese or mayo loaded dips.
· Serve vegetables for dipping instead of breads, crackers, or pretzels.
· Use vegetables as the dipping vessel instead of bread bowls – Ex: fill a hollowed out cucumber or pumpkin with hummus.
· Get creative! Arrange your veggies in the shape of a tree, start, etc. on your serving platter.
· Make water fancy by adding various fruits and/or herbs and serving it in a pretty pitcher. Consider lemons, oranges, cucumbers, mint, rosemary, pomegranates, cranberries, etc.
Mocktails are a great alternative to alcoholic drinks!
· Have plenty of sparkling water on hand for creating mocktails.
· Make salads festive and bright! Pomegranates, oranges, colorful peppers, cranberries and nuts add color and extra nutrients.
Bright salads add to the festive feel while boosting the nutrients at the table.
· Serve homemade dressings made with oil and vinegar instead of mayonnaise based dressings. We promise, no one will complain if there isn’t Ranch Dressing on the table.
· Make mashed potatoes with Greek yogurt, sour cream or broth instead of cream. Season with Parmesan cheese or herbs to reduce some of the sodium intake.
· Roast sweet potatoes with a drizzle of oil and fresh herbs instead of adding marshmallows, sugar and butter
Maple Cranberry Brussel Sprouts are a beautifully healthy side to add to your holiday table
· Make stuffing with something new! Instead of bread try using quinoa, increase the amount of celery, onions and carrots but also try tossing in diced mushrooms or other veggies.
· Resist the urge to offer multiple main courses such as ham, turkey, meatballs, etc. It will only leave everyone feeling over full and miserable.
· Offer more vegetable sides so people are filling up on those rather than just the main dish. The less sauce involved the better.
· Use fresh or dried herbs to season main courses instead of all that salt.
A fruit and cheese board is a great dessert option
· Small portions are the key to enjoyment! Better yet, bake mini bite sized versions of your favorite desserts.
· Make fruit the center attraction.
Mini Paleo Pumpkin Pies are the perfect sized dessert!
Helpful Tips to Keep it Healthy:
· Use Social Media: Pinterest and Google are your friends! Get friendly with social media this holiday season and it will in turn help to keep you on the right track. Use keywords such as Paleo, Keto, Grain Free, Sugar Free, Healthy, etc. for some fantastic recipe ideas.
· Eat Before That Holiday Party: Eating a healthy snack before heading off to a holiday party can help to curb your appetite and prevent overeating.
· Contribute A Healthy Dish: Ensure at least one nutritious choice is available at holiday gatherings by bringing a healthy dish of your own.
· Choose Your Drinks Wisely: Try to stick to water, unsweetened teas, or seltzer water. Alcoholic beverages are empty calories and cause us to make poor judgments in food choices. If you do choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation, and alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Better yet, opt for a mocktail if you want something a little extra festive without the alcohol!
· Visit The People, Not The Food: Move your socializing away from the buffet/appetizer table to prevent mindless eating.
· Say No To Food Pushers: You will always encounter someone who tries to pressure you to eat or drink something that is outside of your nutritious eating habits. You are allowed to politely decline!
· Try Seasonal Desserts In Moderation: We get it, it’s the holidays! So choose that one dessert that you really want to try, but maybe just have a few bites or share a small piece with someone. This way you’ve satisfied that craving without derailing your good nutrition and possibly making yourself feel icky.
· Eat Until You Are Satisfied, Not Stuffed: No one likes that after Thanksgiving coma feeling. Eat slowly, and check your fullness levels while you're eating. Remember…there are always leftovers!
· Don’t Feel Guilty: If you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. There is always the next meal to make it right, there is always tomorrow to do better.
Food For Thought:
· The average person gains 5-8 pounds in the last two months of the year.
Now that's a lot of turkey!
· The average Thanksgiving meal is 2500-3000 calories…that’s not including if you go for seconds.
· To burn off the calories from one slice of pecan pie with cream, you would have to walk approximately 5.5 miles.
· And yes, you guessed right, Pecan Pie has been dubbed the highest calorie food at Thanksgiving.
· Americans consume around 736 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving Day alone. That’s about the weight of the Empire State Building!
See? What did we tell you? No fantasy land here… healthy holiday cooking is doable! Now what are you waiting for? Get going on creating that healthy holiday meal that you’ve always dreamed of having! To get you started, we’ve added some fantastic recipe’s below.
From all of us here at Lakeland Natural Health, best wishes for the Holidays, and for health and happiness throughout the coming year.
Ingredients: ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets 1 ½ cups bone broth (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) 1 clove garlic Salt to taste ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets 1 ½ cups bone broth (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) 1 clove garlic Salt to taste
Instructions: 1. Place the cauliflower in a saucepot with the broth and garlic. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is overcooked. 2. Pour the mixture into a high-speed blender. Cover the lid of your blender with a towel to make sure you don’t burn yourself. Blend for 1 minute, until completely smooth. Taste to season with salt if desired. If too thick, thin with additional broth or water.
Ingredients: 1 12oz package Cranberries 4 Small Oranges (mandarin or clementine variety) 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup 1 Cup Water 1 tsp Cinnamon Optional for thickness: Tapioca starch or arrowroot powder and water, made into a slurry Optional for additional sweetness: Add ¼ cup more Maple Syrup or Stevia to taste. Add ¼ cup more Maple Syrup or Stevia to taste.
Instructions: 1. Rinse cranberries, wash oranges, and then zest all 4 oranges using a Microplane or a grater. Peel oranges and segment them. 2. In a saucepan, add cranberries, oranges, orange zest, water and cinnamon. Bring to a boil – be careful, cranberries will be bursting and may splatter. 3. Once boiling, turn heat to low, simmer sauce for 20 minutes. If you’d like thicker sauce, this is the time you would whisk in the slurry. 4. Pour sauce into a bowl and allow it to cool and set at room temperature for at least one hour. Store sauce in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Sausage, Apple, Cranberry Stuffing
Ingredients: 1 Lb Italian Sausage 1 Cup Onions, finely chopped 1 Cup Celery, finely chopped 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped 1 Clove Garlic, pressed and minced 2 tbs Olive oil 1 tbs Italian seasoning 2 Apples, coarsely chopped 1/4 Cup Raisins 1/4 Cup Chicken Broth 1/4 Cup Fresh Cranberries Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions: 1. Brown the sausage in skillet with olive oil and garlic. Take off heat and set aside. 2. Sauté chopped celery and onions in olive oil until tender. (about 5 minutes) 3. Sprinkle parsley over celery and onions the final minute of cooking. Remove from heat. 4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and chop apples. 5. Toss apples, cranberries, raisins, sausage, onions, and celery together. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning; add salt/pepper to taste. 6. Pour into a 9” X 12” baking dish and bake covered 30-35 minutes, then 1. Brown the sausage in skillet with olive oil and garlic. Take off heat and set aside. 2. Sauté chopped celery and onions in olive oil until tender. (about 5 minutes) 3. Sprinkle parsley over celery and onions the final minute of cooking. Remove from heat. 4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and chop apples. 5. Toss apples, cranberries, raisins, sausage, onions, and celery together. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning; add salt/pepper to taste. 6. Pour into a 9” X 12” baking dish and bake covered 30-35 minutes, then uncover for 15 minutes. 7. Remove from oven, toss ingredients and serve hot.
Healthy Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Crust 2 & ½ Cups pecans ¼ tsp sea salt 1 cup pitted dates tightly packed 2 Tbsp. filtered water, enough to moisten 2 & ½ Cups pecans ¼ tsp sea salt 1 cup pitted dates tightly packed 2 Tbsp. filtered water, enough to moisten
Instructions: 1. Process pecans in food processor until they form a fine meal 2. Add dates (one at a time) and salt. Process until combined 3. Add water and process on low speed for about 10 seconds, until you see large clumps forming 4. Press into a 10” spring form pan or glass pie pan
Raw Pumpkin Pie Filling 2 cups raw pumpkin 1 cup soaked pitted dates 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp freshly diced and peeled ginger 1 tsp coconut oil 1 tsp nutmeg ¼ cup almond milk or water to help blend 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup Vanilla to taste 2 cups raw pumpkin 1 cup soaked pitted dates 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp freshly diced and peeled ginger 1 tsp coconut oil 1 tsp nutmeg ¼ cup almond milk or water to help blend 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup Vanilla to taste
Instructions: 1. Blend all ingredients until smooth. You might need to add more liquid (a little at a time) to get it to blend well 2. Pour into crust and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving *Top with homemade whipped cream by blending heavy whipping cream and a little stevia together.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussel Sprouts
Ingredients 1 lb Brussel sprouts 1 Large sweet potato (1 pound) 2 cloves garlic, smashed 1/3 Cup olive oil 1 tsp cumin ¼-½ tsp garlic salt 1 tsp salt Pepper to taste 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar Fresh thyme, to garnish
Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 400F 2. Trim Brussels by cutting off the little brown end, pull off any yellow leaves. Cut large ones in half. Add to a large bowl. 3. Peel sweet potato and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Add to the large bowl. 4. Smash 2 cloves of garlic and add to the large bowl. 5. Pour 1/3 cup olive oil over the vegetables 6. Add cumin, garlic salt, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to coat. 7. Drizzle a little olive oil onto a sheet pan and rub all over the pan. Pout the vegetables onto the pan. 8. Roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes. The vegetables are done when they are brown and a fork slides in easily. 9. Place vegetables in a serving bowl and toss with 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme. Serve hot. *You can make this a day or two ahead of time. Bake as directed and let cool without adding the red wine vinegar. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to two days. When ready to serve, spread onto a greased pan and roast at 400F for 5-10 minutes until they are sizzling and hot. Remove from oven, add the red wine vinegar and serve.