From the end of October to Early January, there is always some sort of temptation around the corner to derail you from your healthy lifestyle. Holiday foods are often loaded with fat and sugar, which is why they have their unmistakable taste. It’s easy to give in and give up, but it’s also easy to make changes that you’ll barely notice in flavor, but that your waistline will thank you for. Instead of throwing in the towel, make simple changes that will help cut calories without sacrificing taste and flavor.
- Replace butter with an unsaturated oil, like olive oil whenever possible. Whether it’s for greasing the pan or cooking vegetables, this saves calories AND provides heart healthy benefits because you’re replacing a saturated fat with an unsaturated fat. If butter is a MUST, choose a grass fed version for added health benefits. This means that the butter is coming from cows that are fed grass instead of grain.
- Cut the fat and skin off of meats and poultry. Always choose lean cuts of meat over the fatty versions. This works whether you’re the one hosting or not. By just cutting the fat off of your protein, you are also slashing fat and calories for the meal! Enjoy the protein, leave the fat on the plate and save your calories for healthy fats like avocado or olive oil.
- Bake, roast, broil or steam over frying or sautéing. This goes for your proteins as well as your vegetables. How you cook your food is even more important than the type of food, so don’t ruin a potentially healthy meal by cooking it in a way that packs on ingredients, fat, and calories. As a general rule, don’t turn your vegetable into a dessert.
- Season with dried spices and herbs rather than salt and butter. Many Americans suffer from hypertension, so don’t rely on salt for flavor, when you can get even more from natural flavorings like garlic or onion powder, dried oregano, basil, thyme, or any of your favorites! You’ll be adding much more flavor without adding unnecessary calories and sodium.
- If you’re in charge of making the banana bread or zucchini bread, use unsweetened apple sauce instead of oil or butter. It gives you the hint of sweetness your guests crave without the fat that oil or butter contains. Chances are you won’t even notice the difference. Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it!
By making these easy substitutions, you are not succumbing to the holiday annual weight gain, and instead fighting for what you work for all year round. Tweaking a couple recipes can be the difference between feeling guilty or feeling satisfied all season long.