While a holiday devoid of traditional comfort foods would be insufferable, there are plenty of ways to lower their traditional calorie counts. With just a little creativity and a few apologies to culinary purists (pumkin pie without whipped cream? Perish the thought!), you might just make it through the feasting season without having to re-up your gym membership.
Here are a few simple ideas we collected around the office:
1. Cornbread stuffing cooked inside the turkey is high in carbs, and usually laden with butter. Try replacing the cornbread with wild or brown rice, even beans. You can use low-sodium chicken broth instead of butter to keep everything moist.
2. It’s de rigueur on many holiday dinner tables, but a sweet potato slathered in brown sugar and melted marshmallows is the nutritional equivalent of one step forward, two steps back. The incredible health benefits of the sweet potato are obliterated by a heap of sugar and corn syrup. Try baking the sweet potatoes with cranberries and walnuts, instead, with a squeeze of lemon for zest. Delicious!
3. A drizzle of gravy is all it takes to enhance the flavor of most foods – but it’s easy to go a little overboard. Mix it up a bit with a batch of this vegan gravy, featuring wild mushrooms, wine and tamari. Or if you want to keep it traditional, check out this recipe from the Mayo Clinic for a low-fat, low-sodium, traditional gravy.
4. While no one wants to skip dessert, it’s typically the highest-calorie part of the meal. A single slice of the ubiquitous pecan pie can have 800 calories (though pumpkin pie often has far less). If you want to have your pie and eat it too, try this healthy version of pecan pie that skips the corn syrup and adds oatmeal to the mix.
Now get out there and enjoy the season’s eatings! And if you have a killer health substitution for the holiday season, please share in the comments.