Healthy Food Swaps – HOLIDAY EDITION

christmas treats

This year has been a difficult one for being in shape: long quarantine periods had us having more wine and pizza than ever before. The uncertainty about the future and the changes in the routine had us finding ways to release the pressure when everything was shut down and many people increase unhealthy eating habits.

Now that we are all more familiar with the “new normal” it’s time to revaluate our health journey this year: was it worth it? While many see indulging in high calorie foods a way to compensate an emotion, we want to help you find ways for a “new wellness” moment by taking a second thought on what we are putting into our bodies.

If this year was atypical, why don’t we close it up by making healthier choices and changing some outdated traditions around food? We put together 7 Healthy Food Swaps for you to consider this holiday season. Before we get into it, here are some tips for making better choices:

Plan Ahead

If you know you love your aunt’s cookies and that you can’t control yourself around them try to have dinner before trying them. Eating something you love on an empty stomach can lead to overeating and regret.

Also, if dessert is why you love the holidays skip the cheese platter and save those extra calories for it. Having smaller portions can also help you eating more consciously and enjoying all the foods you liked better.

Choose Whole Foods Always

Many dishes have highly processed ingredients that offer empty calories and won’t satisfy your hunger. Choose the option which is closer to its natural form: fruits, nuts, veggies. They will always be a better choice and give you the opportunity to decide which ultra-processed foods deserve to be appreciated.

“Nuts are a far better snack than fat-free pretzels. You’re getting antioxidants, which are better for you than a mouthful of starch,” says nutritionist Lauren Swann, M.S., R.D., co-author of the Black Family Dinner Quilt Cookbook (Tradery House, 1993).

Let Go and Enjoy!

It’s time to celebrate: remember and forget. You don’t have to keep track of every calorie in, but remember that having a healthy relationship with food means not letting yourself associate happiness with overeating. Be present and get your mind around everything else you have around you besides food and make sure to create new memories. Once you let go of calorie counting and focus on the quality of what you are eating you will enjoy the holidays even more.

Here are our tips for Healthy Food Swaps:

1. Yogurt Dips over full-fat dips:

Equally delicious, this lighter version will save you some calories and less fat. There are many recipes online that are very easy to make, but our favorite is Tzatziki!

2. Make a low-fat vegetable dish:

Creativity comes to play when trying to make healthier choices seem tasty, but it is no problem here. Erin Clarke, from Well Plated, shares her Slow Cooker Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup, Cranberries and Feta recipe to make it all more Christmassy.

3. Baked apples over apple pie:

Stuff some apples with brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped pecans and top them with a dot of butter. Bake them on 375°F (190°C) for 30 to 45 minutes, until the apples are cooked through and tender, but not overcooked and mushy. Let them cool and, voila!

4. Mashed cauliflower over mashed potatoes:

Besides offering a lower-starch option, cauliflower also packs a lot more nutrition than a simple white potato. A cup of cauliflower has 25 calories compared to 237 calories for mashed potatoes, 5.3 grams of carbohydrates compared to 36g, plus more fiber, vitamin C and K. If you can’t go all the way cauliflower, try half and half.

5. Homemade Stuffing over Store-bought:

Besides being more delicious, it is way more nutritious. While store bought can save you time, this item can change your experience at the table when it comes to nourishing your body and senses. Here is a more detailed comparison with a link to a great stuffing recipe: Is Homemade Stuffing Better Than Boxed, by Bon Appetit.

6. Hummus over Cheese Ball:

Hummus is a great vegan option to have regardless of food preferences. There are many recipes you can choose from and that can add a colorful and cheerful look to any grazing platter. Add some pomegranate seeds for a Chrismassy touch.

7. Seasonal Fruits over Holiday Cookies:

Holiday Cookies are part of the festivities and have the magical power to create Christmas in your mouth! But instead of having a handful of cookies, try to mix it up with some fresh fruits and dark chocolate. Besides being a powerful source of antioxidants (which you will need to help your body recover from any Holiday Stravaganza), they will help you curb your sweet tooth and control sugar cravings so you only need enough to have a Merry Christmas.

Ekoa Bars are made 100% with Real Fruit and they pair perfectly with cherries & chocolate-covered almonds. Why not serve healthy AND delicious treats to your guests for a complete love feast?

Ekoa Bars with Fruits & Nuts Bowl.

Ekoa Bars are made 100% with Real Fruit and they pair perfectly with cherries & chocolate-covered almonds.

Why not serve healthy AND delicious treats to your guests for a complete love feast?

Making food swaps can be simple and delicious. Plus, by having more nutrient rich foods and less calorie-empty options can help you have a healthier holiday season, strengthening your immune system and helping you recovering from those extra drinks.

Whether you decide to try some ideas for healthy food swaps or not, don’t forget to have fun and celebrate with your loved ones!


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