If you're going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen this holiday season, you may be wondering how to keep your favorite holiday recipes from taking a toll on your fitness and weight management efforts. There are some tried-and-true ingredients we always keep in the pantry and fridge when we can to help us add a bit more nutrition to dishes both sweet and savory.
Here are some of our best holiday food swaps:
1. Whole Wheat Flour -- Replace white flour with whole grain flour for additional fiber. Fiber helps you feel full faster and stay energized between meals.
2. Coconut Oil -- Go for coconut oil instead of butter to add monounsaturated fatty acids that support a healthy metabolism for weight management. Coconut oil can be used both for baking as well as stir-frying vegetables or even on dinner rolls.
3. Flax Seeds -- Mix some flax seeds into your cookies for crunch as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids for the heart.
4. Nuts -- When cooking up stuffing or roasting vegetables, add some nuts like almonds or cashews for additional vitamin E, which is needed for glowing skin.
5. Nutritional Yeast -- Top savory dishes with nutritional yeast, also known as brewer's yeast, for additional B vitamins and a light, cheesy flavor.
6. Beans -- Serve a water-based soup as a first course to add more vegetables to the table. Add beans for plenty of protein. Having soup before a meal will also help you eat less of more decadent items.
7. Orange Vegetables -- Take advantage of all the pumpkin in season, which is a wonderful source of vitamin A for eye health. Sweet potatoes are also a way to get vitamin A -- signified by their color -- just be sure to avoid loading them up with butter and brown sugar. Try a drizzle of antioxidant-rich raw honey and some chopped pecans instead.
8. Fresh Herbs -- Make up a pitcher of infused water with herbs and fruit instead of putting out soda, which is full of sugar. Mint leaves and cranberries are both seasonal and delicious additions.
9. Spices -- Add more spices to your meals like cinnamon, turmeric and ginger to fight inflammation, promote digestion and keep blood sugar more stable.
10. Fresh Fruit -- Consider grilling fresh fruit for a lighter dessert than pie. Grilling caramelizes the fruit to bring out its natural sweetness. Serve with low-fat frozen yogurt.
One more tip? If you're the one planning the big holiday meal, try to schedule it earlier in the day so your body has plenty of time to digest. You may even be able to sneak in an evening workout. For more tips, check back soon!