It’s not a secret of the health-conscious crowd that the holidays are when sensible eating habits are tossed to the wayside like Thanksgiving leftovers in mid-December. This is a time of widespread consumption; whether it be in the form of food, alcohol or stretching your bank account thin, everyone seems to be busting at the seams and running ragged.
Similar to how families have their own unique holiday traditions, many individuals have their own ways of coping with holiday madness. For many of us, food is the antidote. This is problematic since the carbs, sugar and fat trifecta of weight gain is plentiful and steadfastly available as ever during this season. Instead, switch it up with some superfoods for sweet and savory satisfaction.
Pass on Potatoes and Cue the Cauliflower
Mashed potatoes are arguably the most commonly served holiday side dish throughout the entire holiday season. While potatoes alone may not be entirely unhealthy, they contain significantly more calories than cauliflower and when combined with butter, chicken broth, cheese or whatever your secret recipe might be. A one cup serving of potatoes contains 134 calories while the same sized serving of cauliflower is a mere 28 calories. Cauliflower is also significantly higher in vitamins C and K. Replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower, your guests might not even notice.
Celebrate with Sushi
Sushi can be a great way to celebrate this holiday season. Instead of serving meat or poultry as the main entrée, sushi can roll out some delicious superfood flavors that will be hard to forget. Sushi is a great choice because it’s fun, light and incorporates multiple superfoods. The seaweed wrap is high in folate, calcium and multiple vitamins. Salmon and other fishes, high in omega 3 fatty acids and high in protein also make for a nutrient-dense meal. For bonus points, prepare sushi with brown rice for a healthy dose of fiber.
But what About Booze?
Alcohol is not a healthy beverage. In fact, it’s probably closer to a poison despite some creative marketing efforts to convince us otherwise. However, alcohol is often a necessary element (or social lubricant) to any lively holiday party. Just don’t get too loose around your boss or get behind the wheel after having one too many. Shake things up with your drink menu this year by incorporating superfoods as garnishes or mixers in your guest’s cocktails. Some great ideas are whole cranberries, pomegranates, lychees, and coconuts. All of these superfoods are high in vitamins and minerals and look great served as a garnish, but are also delicious as mixers.
Green Beans Almondine
Chances are we have eaten green bean casserole with the fried onions our entire lives. Chances are we also know this is made entirely from canned food. Start early on your New Year’s resolution and switch to a healthier alternative. Green beans almondine is a simple recipe that yields more nutrition. Use fresh green beans and steam them so they retain more of their vitamin content. Add some olive oil and top with crushed almonds, pistachios or any nut of your choice. Season to your liking.
And Finally, Dessert.
Dessert is another part of the holidays that is just simply not healthy but not quite in the same way as alcohol. To make a healthy dessert, turn to the sweet potato for some inspiration. This naturally sweet root vegetable packed with fiber and vitamins may require significantly less sugar than we imagine, hence its name. Sweet potatoes are complemented by apples, cinnamon, and dried cranberries.
Incorporating superfoods can be a great way to mitigate the onslaught of holiday weight gain. While there is no precise definition of what a superfood is, they are generally regarded as foods that are high in essential vitamins and minerals. Always remember that a consistently healthy diet and regular exercise are the best ways to lose and maintain weight. However, ‘tis the season for some simple tweaks that can be applied to avoid living the rest of your days in sweatpants. This holiday season, make superfoods your superpower.
By Bill Hess, Nature Restore Wellness Contributor