For most people, a Thanksgiving gathering wouldn’t be the same without traditional family recipes. However, swapping a fat-, salt- or calorie-rich ingredient or dish for a healthier one can help you enjoy holiday favorites even more knowing you’re paying less of a nutrition price. During your holiday celebrations, a warm serving of sweet potato casserole or a sample plate of several desserts can warm both body and soul, but they may leave your health out in the cold. You don’t have to choose between palate and heart disease prevention when it comes to the Thanksgiving foods you love. Use this dish-by-dish guide to healthy comfort food substitutions to satisfy your taste buds:
Bread—Forget yeast rolls. Try pita bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil instead.
Crackers and dip—Instead of dunking crackers into a decadent—and calorie-heavy—artichoke cheese dip, stir some lemon juice and pepper into nonfat Greek yogurt and enjoy it with carrot sticks, broccoli or cherry tomatoes.
Macaroni and cheese—Low-fat or fat-free milk and cheese, as well as whole-wheat noodles, can make this favorite dish of both children and adults a bit better for the heart.
Mashed potatoes—Take your carbohydrate intake down a notch by swapping spuds for cauliflower.
Cookies—Warm cookies were made for nibbling during family board game tournaments. For a healthier treat, bake them with applesauce instead of oil.
Pies—If you’re making a double-crust pie, opt for a less dense lattice top to reduce calories, or eliminate the crust all together. Opt out of a whipped topping made from heavy cream to reduce even more calories.
Fruits, Vegetables and a Side of Resolve
Another new year is just around the corner, and you might make another resolution to eat healthier. How can you make this one last past Valentine’s Day? Follow these steps to give your resolution staying power:
1. Get real. Setting an unrealistic goal can sabotage a resolution before it has a chance to gain traction. Instead of starting or stopping something cold turkey, use incremental steps to build a habit, such as adding a fruit or vegetable to one meal a day until including it every time becomes routine.
2. Make it a group effort. Eating healthier can be difficult if the people around you aren’t doing the same, especially if you prepare meals for everyone. Tell family and close friends about your resolution and encourage them to join you. You’ll keep each other accountable, and everyone will benefit.
3. Keep setbacks in perspective. Adversity and achievement go hand in hand. If you eat a fast-food dinner one night or indulge in a second piece of cake at a birthday party, you don’t need to go back to square one. Focus on the progress you’ve made and vow to add to it with the next meal and the next day.