The holiday season is finally here, and goodies and treats — many of which aren’t supportive of our health — are everywhere. Rather than indulging, feeling guilty, packing on pounds and facing a new challenge in the New Year (losing that extra weight!), think about holiday eating a little differently this year. Here are five delicious and nutritious foods, plus some of the benefits they offer for your health.
This sweet yet tart fruit has a lot to offer. Traditionally, cranberries are enjoyed during the holidays as cranberry sauce; but this popular dish is often loaded with added sugar. Instead, focus on fresh, frozen and dried cranberries. They can be used stirred into stuffing, mixed with nuts for a healthy snack, baked into holiday breads or simply simmered with apples and cinnamon for a simple treat. Cranberries are nature’s candy and are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and are fat, cholesterol and sodium free.
This winter squash is certainly a year-round favorite. Try experimenting with canned pumpkin in non-traditional ways, such as in roasted soups, homemade burger patties, hummus or spiced drinks. Pumpkin lends fiber, vitamin C and even protein to our diets.
Although considered a starchy, maybe not-so fabulous side, stuffing can “stuff” in the nutrition if you have a great recipe. This dish is usually created with ingredients such as bread, corn, cream and butter. Reinvent stuffing by beginning with whole wheat bread pieces, then and add onions, mushrooms, celery, wild rice, sage, rosemary and parsley. This makeover will trim the saturated fat, decrease dietary cholesterol and sodium, increase fiber, create flavor without adding calories (thanks to the herbs) and add a serving or two of vegetables to the mix.
Everyone looks forward to mashed potatoes with holiday meals; but, sadly, those beloved spuds are often smothered with gravy and butter. For a healthier spin, try adding cauliflower to the mix. Steam florets until soft, then puree them smooth before combining with white potatoes, herbs and black pepper for great side dish with “cheesy” flavor. Or consider swapping out white potatoes for sweet potatoes for beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A carotenoid), which offers benefits for eye health and more.*
Pecan pies, pecan rolls, roasted pecan nut mixes–people go nuts for this popular nut during the holidays. Unfortunately, they’re usually paired with sugar and fat, as well as other carbohydrates with little fiber. Where’s all the goodness of pecans themselves? This year, sprinkle pecans atop entrees and sides, pulverize into a creamy spread for crackers, blend into a healthy homemade smoothie or combine with dates to make dessert bars. Pecans offer protein, unsaturated fat, vitamin E (a potent antioxidant*), copper and manganese.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.