Love and joy fill the holiday season. People act kinder. We are reminded that giving is more important than receiving. The hope for peace on Earth seems to fill the heart of every person you encounter. Yet, during this time of year, there is an evil that lurks. It hides in plain sight, takes different forms, and awaits around practically every corner. Holiday Calories! We still want you to enjoy the season and all the treats it brings, so we’re sharing a list of common holiday indulgences so you can consider which to enjoy and which to avoid. You’ll know to eat this, not that.
Hummus & Greek Yogurt, not Cream Cheese
I haven’t done all the math, but I would safely guess 99% of the parties you attend this holiday season will have some sort of dip, served with chips (or for those who tend to be more healthy-minded, vegetables). When considering your dip choices, go for hummus or some Greek yogurt-based dip over cheese or cream-based option. Hummus has less fat and fewer calories; the same is true with Greek yogurt based dips which also contain more calcium, probiotics and protein. In fact, substituting low-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream can save you 15 grams of fat and 180 calories cup for cup.
Seasoned Vegetables, not Casseroles
Just because a casserole might include the words “green bean” or “broccoli” in the title doesn’t necessarily mean they’re healthy. The vegetable that is included as an ingredient may be may be overshadowed by other elements that are added such as cheese, cream of mushroom soup or fried crispy toppings. If simply steamed and slightly seasoned vegetables won’t do the trick, look for alternatives to add flavor in creating a vegetable based casserole. Used toasted almonds over fried onions. Add buttermilk or milk powder for creaminess. A quick web search will reveal many options for dressing up vegetables for the holidays.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes, not Candied Yams
Listen, I’ve never met a yam I haven’t liked. That said, sometimes they stick around longer that I want (love handles, anyone?). Candied yams delight my sweet tooth but that’s because they can include a large amount of brown sugar (not to mention the butter). A good way to get the taste without the lingering guilt is to go with roasted sweet potatoes. With a few dashes of cinnamon, you can have a side of roasted sweet potatoes that will make your family happy as a yam. It also helps you save the sweetness for dessert.
Almost Any Other Pie, not Pecan Pie
If you don’t know by now, we hate to break it to you, but pecan pie is one of the pies with the highest calorie count. If you’re watching your waistline, it might be the one to avoid (or at least have a thinner slice). And, even though apple pie contains a fruit, it’s often topped with more crust and pastries that drive up the calories. Pumpkin tends to be one of the better choices since it is made up mostly of the filling. No matter what pie you choose, consider making it crust-less. Not eating the crust can save close to 150 calories per slice. Every little bit helps.
Cinnamon Tea, not Hot Chocolate
Yes, the whipped cream mustache is a big hit with the kids (we saw “The Holiday” too). But just because you’re serving your little ones hot chocolate doesn’t mean you need a mug full every time. Not only does cinnamon tea offer a wonderful sweet alternative, it also can help in weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen your immune system, and improve digestion.
Red Wine, not Eggnog.
We know eggnog is a big hit around the holidays and for some, it completes the season. But once you unwrap it, you’ll learn that one cup of non-alcoholic egg nog contains close to 350 calories, 21 grams of sugar and 19 grams of fat. That’s the kind of gift that keeps on giving. On the other hand, red wine contains fewer calories than most alcoholic drinks and also contains heart-healthy antioxidant. If red wine isn’t a good substitute for you, you can go sweet with champagne which contains less sugar and fewer calories. If eggnog is a holiday “must have,” make your own using low fat milk and adjusted spices to save some calories.
Mocktails, not Cocktails
Let’s face it, many of the calories we consume during this time of year from in liquid form, particularly alcohol. There are plenty of tasty beverages that can make a holiday party fun that don’t contain any booze. In fact, our Fit Choice Health and Wellness program at First Choice Loan Services just did a seminar on this topic (pictures below), sharing fun recipes for mocktails. We’ve shared one below. Added bonus: no hangover!
Pomegranate Punch (serves 6)
2 1/2 cups seltzer
2 cups pomegranate juice
Lemon twists, for garnish
Preparation: Combine pomegranate juice and seltzer in a large bowl or pitcher. Serve over ice with a twist of lemon.
Serving size: 3/4 cup each
Resource: EatingWell: December 2006
As “they” say, “summer bodies are made in the winter.” But, if you look at this list and think, “No way… the holidays are meant to enjoy, so I’m eating this *and* that,” we certainly can’t stop you. You can always consider it preparation for those New Year’s Resolutions.