10 Food Swaps for Better-for-You Holiday Dishes

by | Updated: March 28th, 2019 | Read time: 3 minutes

Margarine instead of butter, skim milk in place of whole, low-fat rather than full—most of us have a few tricks tucked up our apron sleeves for dialing back the “bad” in recipes. When it comes to holiday recipes, however, it can be tempting to keep the magic to a minimum in order to crank out dishes and desserts that lacking literally nothing (including the extra spoonful of guilt). After all, this special season only come around once a year. Why not indulge, right?

Woman in Apron Baking Holiday Recipes With Healthy Food Swaps | Vitacost.om/blog

Before you put another pie in the oven, ponder this: the average American holiday splurge can pack in a staggering 4,500 calories and over 200 grams of fat (from appetizers to the traditional turkey entrée with trimmings, plus drinks and a trip – or two—to the dessert table).

If you could slash those numbers, while still serving up all the flavor in your usual undoctored dishes, wouldn’t you? Luckily, it’s not only easy to tone down the unhealthiness of holiday faves, you can actually increase their nutritional value—all without sacrificing taste.

Just add the following items to your shopping list to make these simple, sneaky and healthy food swaps that no one will notice (but everyone will love):

1. Applesauce

Use in place of: Oil in baked goods recipes. Applesauce not only contains no added sugar, it supplies fiber while reducing fat and calories. Sub it in at a 1:1 ratio.

2. Brown rice

Use in place of: White rice in any recipe or breadcrumbs in some stuffing recipe. Brown rice is a 100% whole grain that’s high in fiber and full of flavor.

3. Cauliflower

Use in place of: Traditional casseroles, potatoes or rice dishes. For increased fiber and decreased carbohydrates, steam cauliflower and finely chop for cauliflower rice; or roast the whole head for a crowd-pleasing casserole or replacement for traditional mashed potatoes.

4. Plain Greek yogurt

Use in place of: Sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise. The creaminess and mild flavor of Greek yogurt makes it the perfect substitute for similarly textured ingredients in most recipes. Bonus: it delivers gut-health promoting probiotics while reducing fat content!

5. Ground flaxseed

Use in place of: Eggs. Mixed with water and left to sit for a few minutes, ground flaxseed turns into a sticky substance that can be used to replace eggs in most recipes. This allows you to make things vegan and cut cholesterol.

6. Olive oil

Use in place of: Butter. Cooking with unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, instead of butter promotes heart health. It’s also delicious in non-cooked things like homemade dressings or drizzled on bread.

7. Spices (dried or fresh)

Use in place of: Salt and processed seasoning mixes. Spices do not contain sodium and let you safely add flavor to almost any dish.

8. Turkey breast

Use in place of: Traditionally cooked whole turkey. While both dark and white meat are good sources of protein, dark meat has an additional 45 calories and 6 grams of fat over white meat per 3-ounce serving. For small crowds, turkey breasts are ideal. And they’re easier to carve!

9. Whole grain flours

Use in place of: White flour. Whole grain flours such as whole wheat flour or oat flour can add B vitamins and fiber to bread and dessert recipes without changing the flavor.

10. Winter squash

Use in place of: Potatoes. Butternut, acorn or any variety of squash is high in fiber and vitamin A, and may help with healthy blood sugar levels. Roasted or baked, they boast a texture similar to potatoes and fit well on any cold-weather menu.

This article was contributed by Courtney Kiang, RD, registered dietitian nutritionist with The Little Clinic (inside select Kroger locations). For more information about dietitian services, visit www.thelittleclinic.com/dietitians.

Healthy Holiday Cooking Swaps from Vitacost.com