Day 11: Revamping Your Holiday Favorites #holidayplate

12 Day Healthy Holiday Challenge

by Kat Lynch, MPH from Eating The Week

Nothing says holidays like tradition, but what to do when those traditions include loads of less-healthy favorite foods? The Grinch would say skip them entirely, but there’s no need to when some creativity and simple substitutions can keep your holiday table brimming with tasty, healthy versions of sides, main dishes and even desserts!

Day 11: Revamping Your Holiday Favorites

Here’s a little how-to on revamping your holiday favorites, including new recipes to try:

Forget the fryer. Making the switch from fried to baked latkes can lighten up Hanukkah (see what I did there?) Try a recipe like this from Meatless Monday, and you’ll cut the fat while getting the added benefit of vitamin A packed sweet potatoes!

Reshape your sides. Exercise-phobes, relax – I’m not talking about 60-second side planks here. Rather, take that time to think about how you can reduce or replace the full-fat dairy in some favorite holiday side dishes. For example, this sweet-potato “tasty tots” recipe from the Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge forgoes the butter and milk you’d usually use in mashed sweet potatoes. In return, you getkid-friendly bites with the extra oomph of superfood legumes.

Sweet Potato Recipe

De-meat your means. Need to welcome a vegetarian to your holiday table? There are myriads of ways to convert meat-full recipes to flavorful, satisfying vegetarian fare, like this lentil shepherd’s pie from Fat-Free Vegan. A tasty meat-free alternative may even entice some carnivores to get a couple more servings of produce with their meal!

Swap the sugars. Holiday cookies are loaded with refined sugars, but there are many ways to sweeten the offerings on Santa’s plate. Experiment with recipes that use fruits, honey and other whole-food sweeteners, and you’ll get some beneficial phytonutrients along with your treats! No-bake gingerbread bites from Live, Learn, Love, Eat use dates and maple syrup, and you don’t even have to heat up the oven.

Perfect the pie. Lighten up the dairy and cut the sugar to have your pie and eat it too! This banana-infused pumpkin pie from Dawn Lerman in the New York Times uses graham-cracker crust, non-dairy milk and the surprisingly complimentary flavor of bananas to make a rich but lower-calorie version of the heavier standard pie.

Have fun experimenting with some revamped holiday foods, and who knows – this might be the year your new food traditions take root!

Day 11 homework –> Revamp one of your holiday meals this week. Share your favorite swaps and substitutions with us in the comments.

Want to learn how to successfully eat healthy this holiday? Read all the Healthy Holiday Challenge posts here

Kat Lynch, MPH is the author of food and nutrition blog, and a graduate studen in nutrition at Framingham State University. As a parent, runner, and fan of food, Kat is interested in health education that makes good food and great nutrition simple for everyone. Kat has 15 years experience in the healthcare industry, and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest