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Published on November 12, 2019

mugs of eggnog on a plate

Healthy Holiday Swaps

I’m sure everyone would be thrilled if they sat down to a holiday meal of mashed cauliflower, roasted Brussel sprouts and skinless chicken breast, finished off with a delicious sugar-free, crust-less pumpkin pudding.

OK, maybe that’s a bit drastic.

But simple swaps and mindful eating can help to cut calories and avoid the 1-2 pounds of weight gain that’s typical this time of year. Here are some ideas:

  • Be brave and start from scratch. The more work you are willing to do, the more potential swaps are possible. Take the classic green bean casserole. By using a few cans of cream of mushroom soup, you’re contributing 500 calories to the dish. But if make your own sauce using mushrooms, spices, milk, flour and yogurt, you can cut nearly 200 calories, reduce the fat content by half and eliminate over 2,000 milligrams of sodium.
  • Plan and prepare. With proper planning, you can indulge at a few holiday gatherings without setting yourself off course. If you enjoy an egg-white omelet for breakfast, a salad loaded with veggies and topped with shredded chicken or a few ounces of tuna for lunch, it should leave you plenty of calories for a few fried appetizers or a buttery rich dessert.
  • Hosting? Just focus on the meal. Yes, people will munch on a table full of dips, nuts and crackers and cheese, but it’s extra work for you. Plus it’s taking precious space in your guest’s stomach for the main event. No one will miss the extra calories or guilt, I promise.
  • Don’t fret meat drippings. Just start with a beef broth (which has only 15 calories per cup), season to taste (I would recommend garlic powder, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce) and then add in a thickener like corn starch and cold water or flour. The result is a spectacular, lower-calorie gravy that you can pour over everything. And you won’t even have to juggle a hot, giant roasting pan!
  • Sip smart. Cocktails, eggnog and pumpkin spiced lattes … ‘tis the season for these high-calorie beverages. Try to use lower fat milk products and sugar-free syrups to cut calories in your favorites. You can also consider club soda or seltzer water as mixes to go with your favorite wine or spirit. It’ll add a little sparkle and cut calories.

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