Classic holiday dishes might be delicious, but their nutritional value is often lacking. If you want to make your holiday meal healthier for your friends and family, it’s easier than you think! Here are 10 simple ways to tackle healthy holiday meal planning this season.
1. Think Nutrient Dense
What are the most nutrient-dense foods? Most people immediately think of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. Use these as your focus while you’re planning food for the holidays.
2. Include More Veggies
Veggies don’t have to be bland! Find new ways to enhance your holiday dinner with vegetable dishes. Even something as simple as roasted carrots, beets, and squash with salt, pepper, and olive oil could be a satisfying yet nutritious side dish at your meal.
3. Find Easy Swaps
You mustn’t abandon your favorite recipes to make healthy holiday foods. Simply find the healthy swaps you can make without sacrificing taste or structure. For example, you can replace butter with olive oil in savory dishes, sour cream with plain yogurt, and butter with applesauce in desserts.
4. Bake, Don’t Fry
Fried foods might be a favorite at your holiday parties, but consuming that much oil isn’t great for you, not to mention how sluggish you might feel afterward. Try switching the recipes you usually fry in oil to an air fryer or an oven for a baked version.
5. Add Vitamin-Rich Foods
Vitamins are essential all year, but during the colder months, they can help keep your immune system strong when needed. There are many tasty vitamin-rich foods that you can add to your holiday menu, including sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots.
6. Spice It Up
Did you know that spices and herbs can add significant nutritional value to any dish? Additionally, they’ll elevate the taste profile at the same time. Don’t forget to season your recipes with healthy, tasty spices like oregano, basil, and thyme.
7. Use Whole Grains
Try to swap simple carbs for complex carbs for your healthy foods for the holidays. You could even try out a new recipe centered around a whole grain like barley, quinoa, or brown rice.
8. Decrease Salt
Some sodium is essential, but too much in your diet can cause many health problems. Reduce the salt in your holiday meal by adding less than the recipe calls for or avoiding store-bought dressings and canned goods.
9. Make Healthier Desserts
Dessert can be healthy, too! Try new dessert recipes or adapt old ones to include nutrient-dense ingredients like whole grain flour, oat flour, or dark chocolate.
10. Create Something New With Leftovers
Make the most of your leftovers for the next few days by creating some new concoctions. You could create an easy stir fry or harvest bowl with all the healthy components of your holiday meal.