One of the best parts of the holiday season is a big festive meal. But what tastes good at the dinner table may not look so good on the scale the next day. Lindsay Malone, RD, offers tips on how to lighten up classic holiday foods.
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CLEVELAND – The holidays are a time for family, friends, and food, but sometimes our holiday favorites can get the best of our waistline.
Lindsay Malone, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, said there are some holiday favorites that are particularly dangerous to our diets.
Candied yams are one of the biggest offenders. Malone said the marshmallow and brown sugar covered dish is one that can use a healthy makeover.
“I would roast the yams and add your own spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves; maybe a little drizzle of olive oil, or pure maple syrup, to lighten up the dish and maintain the nutrient value,” said Malone.
Green bean casserole is a holiday classic, but it’s also classically heavy in calories. If this is a holiday favorite, Malone said there are a couple of ways to lighten it up.
“You can use a lower fat milk to make the cream sauce; you can use roasted onions instead of the fried onions, or you could roast the green beans altogether with some pearl onions and skip the cream sauce.”
For those heading out to holiday parties, the vegetable tray might seem like a healthy place to start, but Malone said it’s wise to be careful about what we’re dipping those veggies in.
“If you’re going to cut up vegetables and bring a dip to the party, consider something like hummus or guacamole where you’re actually going to get some nutrients; some fiber, some healthy fats to pair with your vegetables,” said Malone.
Malone said that many people like to have ‘pigs in a blanket’ at the holidays, which is essentially a double diet no-no.
“Pigs in a blanket are one of the worst holiday foods,” said Malone. “You’re taking a processed meat and essentially wrapping it in a savory pastry. A good replacement for this dish would be to make mini meatballs using lean meats and your own spice combination –sage, marjoram, basil, sea salt – that way you’re skipping the pastry and the nitrates and you’re getting the protein.””
And don’t forget that it’s possible to drink too many calories too. Holiday drinks, especially eggnog, can contain as many calories as an entire meal.
Malone said you can still have your holiday eggnog, but try it with lower fat milk or almond milk, and cut the sugar in half, while doubling the spices.