Angela Mavridis  |  Nov 10, 2019

The holidays are all about family and good food, but you don’t need to abandon your more mindful eating habits just because it’s the most wonderful time of the year. You can still feel your best and enjoy the holiday season all while enjoying your favorite holiday classics adorning your dinner table. Here are six ways you can put a healthy spin on holiday classics.

#1 Choose Fresh Green Beans Instead of Green Bean Casserole

Instead of opting for traditional green bean casserole, which can be layered in cream, cheese and other dairy, keep it simple with fresh steamed green beans. For an added crunch of taste and texture, add a sprinkle of crushed walnuts or slivered almonds.

#2 Ditch the Store Bought Stuffing and Make Your Own

Nothing says the holidays like a heaping spoonful of stuffing, but instead of buying store bought stuffing, which can be loaded with sodium and other questionable ingredients, make your own at home. Simply saute carrots, celery, onions and any other cubed vegetables of your choosing in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Combine the vegetables with cubes of grain-free bread, broth and your favorite holiday herbs and spices like black pepper, sage and thyme then bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until bread crumbs are golden brown in color.

#3 Get Some Gravy

This holiday season, leave the jarred gravy on the grocery store shelves where it belongs and and make your own instead. It’s easy! Just follow these three simple steps.

  • In a large saucepan, combine one cup of broth (beef, chicken, turkey or vegetable broth), seasonings (pepper, salt and thyme) and the drippings from your roasting pan assuming you are using it to roast a delicious holiday dinner. 
  • Place the saucepan on a stovetop burner and set the burner to a medium-high heat.
  • Stir until gravy is brown in color then add 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, tapioca flour or another natural thickener of your choice until mixture is thoroughly combined. That’s it!

#4 Go Grain Free

It’s easy to fill up on bread from the bread basket long before your favorite holiday dishes have made their way around the dinner table to you, so either skip the bread basket entirely or opt for grain-free options.

Tip: If you are making your own bread from scratch, replace whole milk or full-fat milk with plain yogurt to keep the recipe light. 

#5 Select a Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Although the canned shaped cranberry sauce is a staple at the holiday dinner table, the can of cranberry sauce you open for the holidays is also laden with artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, preservatives and refined sugar. (No thank you!) Cut out the processed sugars and make your own sugar-free cranberry sauce instead. Check out this simple recipe from Cookie + Kate.

#6 Swap Out Sweet Side Dishes for Sweet Vegetables

This holiday season, instead of serving candied yams, try serving another sweet side dish like oven-roasted acorn squash or sweet potatoes.

  • Acorn Squash: Wash your acorn squash then cut it into ¼-½  inch slices. Place acorn squashes on a baking sheet and drizzle slices with avocado oil and a dash of cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. 
  • Sweet Potatoes: Simply dice and slice the desired amount of sweet potatoes then toss them in avocado oil with a dash of Pink Himalayan Salt or sea salt. Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes. 

Tip: The natural sugars in the acorn squash and sweet potatoes will quickly cause them to burn if you cook them on too high of a temperature, so remember low and slow wins the holiday race!

This holiday season, don’t skip the simple joys of your favorite classic dishes. Instead, elevate them by being more mindful of how you prepare them so you and your holiday guests can feel their best from now until the New Year. Happy holidays everyone!

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