The holidays are here, and it is time to savor all the joy they bring -- friends, family, meals together, giving & gratitude. Of course, along with them are hearty dishes and sweets that can certainly wreak havoc on our bodies. Casseroles laden with cream, sugary cakes and cookies, and other tempting empty calorie bombs will adorn the dining tables we surround. Unless we do something about it, that is!
But how can you make healthy decisions during the season of eating, especially without anyone noticing? Well, I have a few of my favorite tricks to share with you that I use each season, and the best part is, everybody loves it.
My favorite ways to sneak more nourishment into my holiday meals are...
Toss beans into your salads soups, or casseroles
Beans are so full of fiber they might just help you and your family from eating thirds at Christmas dinner because they are full and satiated. Legumes are a powerhouse of nutrients that include meat-free protein, zinc, folate, antioxidants and more. Adding beans to your soups and pureeing the soup give a nice velvety smooth texture too. These gems are very versatile and can replace meat in many dishes for any vegans you have visiting.
Add turmeric to your dishes
Make some of your food a pretty orange color by adding turmeric. It’s a natural, powerful anti-inflammatory that is filled with antioxidants. It is related to ginger and looks quite similar to a ginger root, and is most easily consumed in dried form. You can sneak it into dishes by sprinkling it in and enjoy the benefits it brings. Add just a little bit to your soups, sweet potatoes, salad dressings, and dips. Go easy on it since the flavor can be strong to those that aren’t used to it.
Use alternative sweeteners for your sweet treats
Don't worry -- I'm not suggesting you do away with your dessert table altogether, but those unrefined sugars are what we are trying to avoid. If you swap out the unhealthy stuff for a natural sweetener that is a better option, you’ll still get the sweet tastes everyone loves without the slew of chemicals. Try raw organic honey. Local honey is best which can typically be found at your local health food store. You can also look for coconut sugar or coconut syrup, or even use dates, which is my favorite sweetener.
Utilize fresh herbs for flavor and health benefits
Fresh herbs add a new dimension of taste to your dishes without adding fat and calories. Plus, they naturally have their own benefits from adding more antioxidants to reducing inflammation. Experiment with your favorite ones to add more zing to your mashed potatoes or liven up your veggies.
The holidays don’t have to be so heavy on the unhealthy items, particularly when you use these simple tricks for making your favorite holiday dishes healthier. Happy Holidays!