Healthy Holiday Meal Ideas & Tips
Summer has headed south for the season, and now Thanksgiving is just around the corner. That means plenty of delicious food at family or office gatherings. There’s also challenge of staying trim with so many tempting treats around. Whether you’re participating in an office potluck or in charge of your family’s Thanksgiving meal, here are some healthy holiday meal ideas to help you plan.
You may be surprised to learn that you can still enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving dinner without all the extra fat, sugar, sodium, and calories. Making a few smart ingredient swaps can easily trim calories without losing the flavor!
Casseroles: Casseroles can easily be carb and starch heavy. Substitute low fat yogurt or non-fat milk for heavy cream to cut down on fat. Use fresh veggies to keep the sodium levels down.
Cranberry Sauce: The average can of cranberry sauce is packed full of sugar. Cranberries are in season during fall, so consider making your own cranberry sauce. That way, you’ll be able to keep those sugar levels in check. Some recipes may suggest using sugar substitutes to cut down on sugar even further.
Dinner Rolls: One easy way to trim excess carbohydrates is to trade white dinner rolls with whole wheat.
Macaroni and Cheese: While absolutely delicious, macaroni and cheese just doesn’t make the list for healthy fare. Fortunately, there are recipes are just as tasty and still embody the spirit of this Thanksgiving dish.
Mashed Potatoes: Cream and butter make potatoes into one of the most fattening dishes on the holiday table. Lighter versions may include yogurt or non-fat milk in lieu of cream, and heart-healthy margarines instead of butter.
Salads: While not strictly traditional, there are many warm salads that would be a perfect and light addition to any Thanksgiving table, such as this warm Winter Wheat Berry Salad.
Stuffing: No table is complete without stuffing! However, they can be very fattening. Trim some calories by substituting whole wheat bread for white, and adding vegetables instead of sausage and meat into the mix.
Healthy Office Pot Luck Ideas
Potlucks are a great way to bring everyone together in a festive spirit during the holidays. People can share traditional dishes, family and cultural specialties. With the right organization and planning, you can make your office potluck both tasty and healthy. Coordinate with your coworkers and make healthy holiday food the theme. But be flexible, since the potluck is ultimately about camaraderie!
Some healthy recipes to bring to the office potluck include:
- Healthy soups and stews are perfect for the season, as well as easy for people to eat while standing and socializing.
- Opt for whole grain bread in recipes.
- Cold or warm salads can easily find a place on many plates, as your coworkers may be wanting to keep their waistlines in check this season too!
- Fruit and veggie trays are always a great appetizer for any party.
- When it isn’t fried or basted with butter, turkey is a low fat, high protein offering which fits with the season. If no one wants to cook, a pre-cooked turkey breast can be purchased at many stores
- Everyone loves dessert. And no potluck would be complete without it! There are plenty of lighter desserts available during the holidays. Store bought fruit pies are filled with sugar. But homemade pies don’t have to include all that sugar.
- Always remember to keep vegetarian and vegan options available for the non-meat eaters of your office.
Although the amount of food will vary depending on the size of every office, You’ll generally want to have:
- 2 protein offerings
- 2 -3 sides
- 2-3 appetizers
- 2 desserts
As you can see, thoughtful planning can help your office potluck be both enjoyable and delicious without the guilt!
More Health-Conscious Tips
Plenty of Thanksgiving recipes call for butter and heavy cream. Reduce these ingredients, or replace them when cooking. Heart-healthy oils can substitute for butter, while almond milk and plain, low-fat yogurt can replace milk and heavy cream.
You can cut down sodium in your cooking by replacing chicken broth with low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth.
Eat a light breakfast the morning of Thanksgiving! This will help regulate your appetite so you don’t overeat at dinner.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a struggle to keep your weight down. Careful choices of ingredients and portion control can help you stay trim all winter!