Ginger Daniels Movement Specialist
Healthy Holiday Alternatives
Do you ever feel like all year you are struggling to either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, only to find that come the end of November it becomes nearly impossible because of all of the festivities? Well, you are not alone. I have clients who complain about these issues daily, so I thought I would suggest some slightly better alternatives to those delicious snacks and beverages we love during the holidays. Keep in mind that these are just suggestions, and if you indulge on certain foods, but then use the below substitutions for a couple of items, you are already ahead of the curve!
1. Hot Chocolate
Ok, so we all love to drink something warm and tasty by the fire in the winter, and unless you're allergic (I'M SO SORRY), who doesn't love chocolate?! Here is a better version of a Hot Chocolate, and I swear it tastes amazing...
Get a dark chocolate with an above 70 percent cacao in it. Anything milk chocolate or below 70 does not have the healthful benefits of chocolate that people like Dr. Oz rave about. I buy a Belgian version. Next, get a milk alternative. Yes, I know you think that is a horrible idea because almond milk is not the same as a rich cow's milk, BUT if you get a milk that is half coconut and half almond, it WILL be delicious. Coconut milk gives the creamy thickness that you'll need for consistency, and the almond milk cuts some of the healthful coconut fat. Finally, none of this has a lot of sugar SO....I add honey. Honey is a natural sweetener that is higher in fructose than glucose which means that you DON'T NEED AS MUCH OF IT AS YOU DO WITH SUGAR. Also, it has antimicrobial properties that can help kill off germs. Combine 2 tablespoons of chocolate, 1 1/2 cups of coconut/almond milk, and 2 teaspoons of honey and voila! HEALTHY HOT CHOCOLATE.
2. Instead of mashed potatoes and gravy, bring butternut squash and yams with pomegranates to the party
So most people have a potato on their holiday table, but you can get the same feeling with more healthful benefits if you make a festive squash and yam combo instead. First off, most mashed potatoes have cream and butter, and don't get me started on the gravy! SO, begin with a baking dish and sliced yams. Next cube a bit of butternut squash and lay all of this out in the dish. Next take diced shallots and garlic and cover the vegetables. Add olive oil to just cover the veggies and a small amount of salt and black pepper. Bake at 450 degrees in the oven, turning the veggies over once at about 15 minutes, AND add pomegranates. Bake for 5-10 more minutes, depending on your oven, and you're done! Butternut squash has vitamins C and E as well as folate. Yams have potassium and manganese. Pomegranates have antioxidants that help combat a variety of diseases. Shallots help reduce cholesterol, garlic has very few calories and combats sickness, and olive oil protects against heart disease and has healthful fats. By the way, this tastes amazing!
3. Parsnip and celery root latkes instead of potatoes and sautéed broccolini instead of green bean casserole
My husband is Jewish and I was raised Christian, so growing up he had potato latkes while I had green bean casserole. Latkes are fried, and green bean casserole traditionally has butter and sometimes bacon and cheese. Healthy alternatives to the high starch pf a potato latke would be to use parsnips and celery root instead, AND to sauté broccolini in a pan with lemon, garlic, and olive oil instead of that whole casserole thing. You could use green beans if you like, but broccolini adds a heartiness to the dish in its consistency and fibrous quality that will make you feel full. Parsnips and potatoes are similar in health benefits, BUT parsnips have way fewer calories than potatoes. Broccolini is high in calcium, so it's good for those at the table that might have developing osteoporosis.
There you have it! A few SUGGESTIONS to make you feel a bit better about eating and enjoying your food this season. Remember, the thing is to ENJOY...if you indulge a bit, so what. It is the holidays after all. You can always revisit my blog last week to get your body moving if you had too many cookies at the office party the other night!
Happy Eating, Happy Living
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