The holiday season is upon us yet again, and along with the exciting hustle and bustle of holiday preparations comes all the delicious holiday foods and treats. I love this time of year but dread the unhealthy foods that I may end up eating and serving to my two year old son. I have been working hard all year long to make sure my little one is eating the healthiest foods and meals possible and I don’t like changing this healthy tune just because it is the holidays. I decided to take a stand! While we can’t control the foods we are served at holiday parties, we can make a change in the holiday foods we prepare for our own family. A few years ago I started substituting healthier items into our traditional family holiday recipes and over the years I have transformed what was once a fat and salt heavy meal into a healthy and delicious feast! Here are a few tips that can help you create a healthier version of your traditional family holiday feast.
Tips for making some traditional holiday foods healthier:
- Stuffing – use whole wheat bread instead of white bread
- Green bean casserole – try substituting whole wheat baked chips for the onion rings
- Vegetables – add in a new tasty vegetable to your holiday spread. Try roasting asparagus, squash or cauliflower in the oven with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Salads – boost up your traditional salad but substituting spinach leaves for iceberg lettuce, and load it with veggies like tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, chickpeas, and the list goes on and on, so be creative!
- Cookies – try using whole wheat flour and substituting oil/butter for applesauce
- Mashed potatoes-use chicken stock or fat-free milk instead of cream and butter
- Try making mashed sweet potatoes instead, of mashed potatoes. They taste delicious with cinnamon and chopped pecans!
Other baking and cooking substitution tips:
- Substitute whole wheat flour for white flour – this will give your foods a boost of fiber and folic acid
- Substitute lean ground turkey for ground beef – if you are worried that your family will be able to taste the difference try doing half and half
- Substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream – you will be adding healthy proteins to your meals
- Sub out brown rice for white rice
- Substitute butter for applesauce or prune puree – this you may need to experiment with, some recipes can be substitutes at 1:1 and other at ½ the called for butter or oil in recipes
- Sugar – you can usually decrease the sugar by half and add in some vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon for extra flavor
Although I have shared with you some great substitution ideas, some traditional holiday foods are better when left alone. If your family has a holiday favorite that is not as healthy as you would prefer this can be a great opportunity to teach your children about portion sizes and eating things you enjoy in moderation. Try adding some fun physical activity into this busy season! Throw on some festive holiday music and dance with your little ones while your healthy holiday feast is cooking and enjoy this wonderful time of year with less worry about what you and your family are about to eat!
Have you tried any of these substitutions before? Do you have any other healthy tips to share? ***GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*** Leave a comment below and you will be entered for a chance to win a Designed to Nourish™ Puree & Simple™ Immersion Blender! TEN winners will be randomly selected from all comments (U.S. residents only). Check back on January 8th, when we will post the winners!
Here are the WINNERS: Laura G, Carolyn B, Kasie, TJ, Mary M, Morgan, Suzanne, Heather V, Melani S, and Nicole B. If you are one of the winners, you will be contacted by e-mail. Thanks to everyone for commenting!
Laura Grillo says:
December 23, 2012 at 6:03 am
I would love one of these to motivate me to make some awesome baby foods. My mom always has a summer garden, and it would be my pleasure to make some baby foods from it.
Carolyn Barnett says:
December 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm
My daughter loves meatloaf and i add vegetables to the meatloaf and she has no clue.
Kasie Denton says:
December 23, 2012 at 4:45 am
Can’t wait to make these for my baby!
January 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm
Thanks for the chance! We make all of our son’s food from scratch so this would sure be helpful!
mary mcmenaMY says:
December 23, 2012 at 8:08 am
i also use mashed cauliflower with parsnsips butter basil yummo
December 23, 2012 at 10:44 am
I am training to become a Family Child Care provider. Healthy food options for the children under my care is a must. Great tips!
Suzanne Peters says:
December 23, 2012 at 6:43 am
We have a rule – try it once. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it again. This has fostered a sense of trust between us, so they are willing to try anything new. They have become very adventurous eaters, more so than I am.
melani s says:
December 23, 2012 at 3:31 am
Our son just turned 4 months on the 19th. I can’t wait when he starts eating solids and making his own food. :)