Friday, December 5, 2014

Replacing Your Holiday Dinner with Healthy

Background Courtesy of Anusorn P nachol |
Holiday dinner isn't exactly synonymous with healthy eating.  However, there are ways to make it a bit more heart healthy than normal.  Here are five suggestions to get  you on your way to a nutritious holiday dinner:

Baked Potato Photo Credit: Stefano A via Compfight cc
Mashed Potatoes Photo Credit: BrownGuacamole via Compfight cc
In and of themselves, potatoes are harmless. They're relatively low-calorie, and provide large amounts of potassium and vitamin C. However, they become caloric monsters when people add other things to them. Baked potatoes loaded with sour cream and butter do not need to make it to your holiday dinner table. There's a healthier way to do potatoes.

Garlic mashed potatoes make a great healthy addition to any holiday meal. Through the use of low-fat milk or cream, these spuds can be just as smooth and creamy as their unhealthy counterpart. However, this subtle change brings down the saturated fat content of the dish. If additional flavor is desired, try adding a bit of parmesan cheese.
Cranberry Sauce Photo Credit: via Compfight cc
Baked Spiced Apples Photo Credit: william couch via Compfight cc
One might think that something made with a healthy fruit would actually be healthy. Unfortunately, cranberry sauce doesn't quite work that way. Any benefits provided by the antioxidants are pretty much neutralized when you consider amount of sugar present in a serving of canned cranberry sauce.

For a healthier alternative, nix the cranberry sauce and make some baked spiced apples. After cutting up 4 or 5 apples, season them with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. Apples are naturally sweet, so they don't need much sugar. Nevertheless, they can be made sweeter with a bit of Splenda.

Green Bean Casserole Photo Credit: Glenn Gutierrez via Compfight cc
Sautéed Fresh Green Beans Photo Credit: ehpien via Compfight cc
On their own, green beans are rich in vitamins and minerals. When combined with heavy cream and fried onions, their nutrients are blocked out by saturated fat and sodium. Likewise, cooking them for long periods of time has a tendency to leach out those nutrients.

Leave the cream and the fried onions alone this year. With a bit of olive oil, garlic and onions, green beans can be sautéed into a delicious side dish. Cooking them with these ingredients will add an unique dimension of flavor without totally destroying their nutrition content.

Bread Stuffing Photo Credit: ontheflyrecipes via Compfight cc
Quinoa Stuffing Photo Credit: pinkeerach via Compfight cc
Stuffing is delicious, but no one ever discusses how unhealthy it can be. Most varieties are made with over-processed white bread. Some of them are even made with sausage and other high-fat meats. Nevertheless, there's no need to remove it from the holiday dinner menu. Quinoa stuffing is a healthy alternative that will satisfy your need for stuffing.

With ingredients such as quinoa, squash, apples and cranberries, quinoa stuffing is packed with nutrients. Use the same spices as you would for your favorite stuffing, and see what a treat you'll have on your hands.

Whole Turkey Photo Credit: kevinq2000 via Compfight cc
Turkey Breast Photo Credit: davidmulder61 via Compfight cc
While turkey is generally considered a lean meat, the entire bird doesn't fall under that category. Some people prefer dark meat because of the flavor content. However, many of them don't realize that dark meat has more saturated fat and sodium than breast meat.

Do yourself a favor by switching out the bird for two or three turkey breasts. Due to a shortened cooking time, they'll be able to maintain more moisture. They'll be so juicy that people won't even miss the dark stuff.

Through these alternative foods, you’ll be cutting down on a lot of saturated fat and sodium that aren’t your heart’s best friend, and hopefully be able to spend more holidays with the family because of it.

Jason Kane is a professional blogger who knows the struggles of eating healthy during the holidays and hopes to help others with the knowledge he’s obtained. He currently writes for AEDs Today, a leading supplier of automatic external defibrillators. 

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