In old news: the holidays are not the easiest time to eat healthily! But, if you’re serious about getting healthy and staying on track, it’s smart to invest a little bit of time and energy into learning how to make your holiday favorite not only delicious but simple to cook. Ready to cut holiday calories and save your waistline? TLS® tackled some of the most popular holiday stumbling blocks to help you out!
Nothing says decadence like a holiday dish, but those calories could ruin a week’s worth of healthy eating. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, the added sugars and fats are nothing to ignore when you consider that the holiday celebrations last almost 6 weeks!
So how do you avoid the calorie traps? Here are five smart ways to cut back on calories this holiday season + still enjoy every bite:
Swap Oil for Stock
In savory recipes, savvy cooks have been cutting back calories by sauteeing meat or vegetables with stock rather than oil. Stock helps keep foods moist and prevents food from sticking without the unhealthy qualities of oils, butter, and fats.
For example, when preparing sauteed vegetables, you might add olive oil or butter for flavor and to aid the cooking process. But by swapping for chicken stock or bone broth, you cut fat and cut calories without sacrificing flavor. It’ll also help give your starches a creamy texture so no one will even be able to tell the difference!
Swap Applesauce for Oil or Butter
If you’re baking your own treats, you’re already a step ahead of those chowing down on store-bought cookies + cakes. Baking at home is generally healthier than purchasing pre-packaged goods, especially if you’re using smart baking swaps!
One of our favorites? Subbing applesauce for oil or butter! The substitution generally works best in muffins, bars or cake recipes, but s cookie recipes may also work with some experimentation! To begin, swap equal amount of applesauce for oil, then make adjustments to other ingredients as needed.
Swap Mixers for Soda Water
Many holiday cocktails involve juices, simple syrups, or soda on top of already calorie-packed spirits! Abstaining entirely is one of the best ways to cut calories, but it may not be your favorite way to navigate holiday cocktails.
Instead, swap the sugary ingredients for lower-sugar options. If you generally enjoy your drinks with sour mix, opt for a lime-flavored sparkling water or cut the amount of mix in half and top it off with soda water! This will save you countless grams of sugar compared to premade mixes or Holiday Happy Hour drinks.
Swap Starches for Veggies
Cauliflower, zucchini, and squash galore! As satisfying as a plate full of starches + carbs might sound, these dishes are often already loaded up with butter, heavy cream, and sodium to add taste. Since starches make up some of our favorite holiday dishes (mashed potatoes? yes, please!) we don’t want to take them away frmo you entirely! So, just swap some of those starches + carbs for vegetables.
By bulking up your meal with veggies instead, you can replace sources of empty calories with a great, natural source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber! Try spiralizing vegetables instead of noodles or cauliflower “rice” instead of white rice. You can even use cauliflower, parsnips, or turnips, instead of potatoes!
Swap Cream for White Beans
Having soup as an appetizer is a common tip for those looking to reduce their intake around the holidays. Sadly, many winter soups are thick and creamy which means calories, calories, calories. Creamy soups often call for cream or whole milk to for their rich textures, but pureed white beans can do the same thing without the calories or fat!
Next time you’re tasked with prepping the soup, prepare the original recipe with one simple tweak. Take a can of white beans, puree them, then add small amounts to your soup to reach the desired consistency whenever the cream or milk is added.
Need a few more ideas?
Steal a few from the TLS® Blog here!