5 healthy food swaps to make your holidays healthy

5 healthy food swaps to make your holidays healthy

without sacrificing taste

Holiday food can taste so good. But it’s often LOADED with unhealthy calories and questionable ingredients.

Nobody likes boring food, especially when you’re celebrating! But you shouldn’t have to harm your health to have a fabulous time.

For too many people, the holiday season kicks off 3 months of unhealthy eating.

But you can make holiday dishes that are delicious, healthful, and impressive — and that will leave you feeling great when the meal ends.

Enjoy healthy and nutritious holiday meals with these 5 healthy holiday food swaps provided by Food Revolution Network.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Unless you’re trying to be healthy.

For many people, the holiday season kicks off three months of unlimited candy and cookies. And it also means eating until you feel more stuffed than a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas goose.

In fact, the Calorie Control Council estimated that the average Thanksgiving dinner contains 4,500 calories.

A 2016 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Germans gained an average of 1.7 pounds during the Christmas and New Year’s season, and Americans gained an average of 1.3 pounds. Unfortunately, those who do gain weight over the holidays never lose it — contributing to an ever-expanding obesity epidemic.

If you think it’s impossible to eat healthy during the holidays, here’s the good news: You don’t have to sacrifice your health this holiday season!

Read on for some excellent healthy holiday food swaps that will help you feel great after any holiday meal.

Healthy Food Swap #1: Trade Turkey
for Mains Made Out of Whole, Plant Foods

Dating as far back as the mid-19th century,
turkey has been the official centerpiece of

And with more than 730 million pounds of turkey consumed in
the U.S. during Thanksgiving in 2016, it’s no wonder so many people call it
“Turkey Day!”

But, you
don’t have to eat a turkey to give thanks

Compared to other meats — such as red meat or
processed meats (which the World Health Organization deemed to be “probably
carcinogenic” and “carcinogenic” in a 2015
) — many people think turkey is healthier or better for them.

But, the risks of obesityheart diseasehigh blood pressurestrokecancerdiabetes, andmortality all
rise with the level of meat intake — and turkey is not exempt

Plus, most turkeys are raised on factory farms
and confined to crowded grow houses. Unless the farm is certified organic, turkey feed often contains antibiotics. This
practice has led to the rapid development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,
sometimes called “superbugs.” And these superbugs are no longer treatable by
any known antibiotic.

Grown in filthy conditions, modern turkeys are a leading source
of food poisoning
. Two types of bacteria, Campylobacter and Salmonella, are
commonly found in the guts and feathers of these birds — up to half of whom
could be contaminated.

So if you don’t have a turkey at Thanksgiving or
Christmas, what can you eat?

Rest assured you can still have a fabulous
holiday dinner without a turkey.

Thanks to the global rise in
plant-based eating, a variety of turkey-free alternatives are available in
supermarkets today. While we can all agree that eating less meat is better for
your health and the planet, many of these substitutes contain heavily processed
ingredients (many of which you can’t even pronounce). They also contain lots of
sodium and unhealthy fats. In other words, they’re not that healthy.

If you’re looking
for a healthier, meat-free main
, here are
some healthy food swaps you can try. First, there’s this Thanksgiving
Meatless Loaf
 from Susan Voisin of FatFree Vegan. Between the mix of
whole foods and fall flavors, you won’t even miss the turkey — or feel the need
to take a nap!

Stuffed acorn or
butternut squash
, such as this Stuffed
Acorn Squash: With a Quinoa, Hazelnut, Apple Stuffing
Plants-Rule, is another main dish option. When hollowed out and filled with
whole grains, greens, and nuts, these winter squashes (which are both in season during
the fall) will leave your guests saying “Oh my gourd!”

One more idea: Don’t worry about a main dish or
centerpiece! You can enjoy an abundant and satisfying holiday meal made from
just “sides” — many of which can hold their own as fabulous star players.

Healthy Food Swap #2: Whip Mashed Potatoes Without Butter or Cream


Who doesn’t love piling a mound of warm and
creamy mashed potatoes on their plate?

Most mashed potato recipes call for a
combination of milk or heavy cream and butter (and sometimes all the above).
While potatoes in their whole form can be healthy, mashing them with milk
and multiple sticks of butter is not.

A strong link
exists between dairy consumption and 
digestive issues.
And it may also be connected to an increased risk of certain types of cancers
including prostate and breast cancer.

But here’s the good news: You can have your mashed potatoes at the
holidays (or any time!) and be healthy, too!

Instead of using milk or cream, try swapping it
out for plant-based milk, like this recipe for Smashed
 from Plants-Rule.

Healthy Food Swap #3: Bathe Your Mashed Potatoes in Plant-Based

You can easily give your gravy a healthy upgrade
by using whole, plant-based ingredients. Vegetable broth or non-dairy milk are
two healthy food swaps that work really well.

With only six ingredients, this gravy recipe from
Nora Cooks is easy to make and ready in just a few minutes. Mushrooms are also
a great addition to gravy, as shown here in this Port
Mushroom Gravy
recipe from Plants-Rule.

Healthy Food Swap #4: Lighten Up
Your Cranberry Sauce with Natural Sweeteners


Cranberry sauce is synonymous with the holidays.
Although cranberries have lots of antioxidants, and they provide incredible health benefits,
ranging from supporting your immune system to
preventing and fighting cancer, there’s a downside.

You can find
canned cranberry sauce at the grocery store that contains a few of the
ruby-hued berries and a lot of sugar
. In
fact, many of the canned varieties feature high-fructose corn syrup, which
usually comes from GMO corn.

Homemade versions often aren’t much better. If
you search for recipes online, some call for at least one cup of sugar  or 700 added sugar calories!

If cranberry sauce is a must-have on your
family’s table this holiday season, you can give your recipe a healthy makeover
by using fewer and better sweeteners.

For example, this recipe from
Lauren at Wicked Spatula uses dates. Or this
 from Cookie + Kate uses honey or maple syrup.

If you do opt to sweeten your cranberry sauce,
go light on the sweeteners and feature the flavor of cranberries. For extra
flavor, add a healthy dash of citrus.

Healthy Food Swap #5: Go Dairy-Free with Your Pumpkin Pie


Pumpkin pie is a popular dessert around the
holidays. In 2012, an estimated 50
million pumpkin pies were served for Thanksgiving.

Native to North America, pumpkins have long been
used by the Aztecs and Mayans as medicine and for survival. The autumnal squash also has many proven health benefits ranging
from cleansing the liver to having a positive effect on blood pressure

Pumpkin pie as we know it today can be traced
 to 1796 with the first cookbook written by an American and
published in America: Amelia Simmons’ American

Nearly 225 years later, the custard-like filling
remains relatively the same: pumpkin, sugar, cream or milk (today many recipes
call for evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk), and a mix of spices.

I think we can all agree that pie made with these ingredients is not exactly
health food. However, there are healthy food swaps you can choose when making
pumpkin pies at home

Avoid canned pumpkin pie mixes, which contain
large amounts of added sugar and sweeteners. If you’re going to make a pie from
scratch, make one with canned pumpkin puree. It usually has just one
ingredient: pumpkin. You can also make your own pumpkin

If a recipe calls for evaporated milk,
substitute plant-based milk instead. Some recipes may call for sweetened
condensed milk. If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative, try sweetened
condensed coconut milk. While it’s still sweetened, it doesn’t come with all
the problems associated
with dairy consumption. Or better yet, go with unsweetened, canned coconut milk
or coconut cream for a less sweet yet still rich flavor.

This Maple Pumpkin
 recipe from Garden Fresh Foodie is a lighter pumpkin pie (and it’s
also dairy, egg, and gluten-free).

For a more naturally sweetened pumpkin pie
dessert, try these Pumpkin
Pie Squares
 from Cathy Fisher.

Don’t Forget: The Holidays Aren’t
Just About Food

It’s true that food is often the center of our
holiday gatherings. But having a healthy holiday is more than what you do (or
don’t) put on your plate.

With all the holiday hustle and bustle, it’s
easy to forget the reason for the season. And that reason is to give thanks and
express your gratitude!

Abundant research now shows that gratitude is good for your physical, emotional, and
mental health.
 People who express more gratitude have fewer aches and
pains, better sleep, and stronger mental clarity. Gratitude
doesn’t only make things feel better — it also makes them get better

Before you enjoy your healthy and nutritious
holiday meal, make time to give thanks. And invite your loved ones to join in,
too. Few things are better at bonding a family than a Thanksgiving circle
around the table.

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Also check out our book site for help with Healthy Living Solutions.


Rod Stone
Publisher and Supplier of Healthy Living information and products to improve
your life.

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