'Tis the season for carb loading, sugar highs, lots of wine, and a ton of extra calories. Just because it's the holiday season doesn't mean you need to totally derail your diet with unhealthy options. We've got you covered with some healthy side dish alternatives to keep you hot & healthy over the season of celebration.
Replace that sugar packed sweet potato marshmallow casserole with roasted root veggies dressed in garlic, avocado oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, and some red pepper flakes for an added kick. Toss in some pumpkin seeds or dried cranberries for a festive and nutritious ingredient. For those that eat dairy, sprinkle in your choice of goat, feta, or blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle a tiny bit of unfiltered honey to finish it off if you have a sweet tooth. Stay away from cooking with butter, you can roast, grill, boil, or even air fry (yes it's still a healthier option) to serve up some goodness. Cooking with broth, coconut, corn, or avocado oils are all healthier substitutes.
Although stuffing seems to always hit the spot, try subbing out all that bread with a mix of multigrain seed bread and quinoa, or just remove the bread altogether! This grain can even replace a pasta or rice dish on your table. Quinoa can be served as a sweet or savory dish, so you have endless options with higher nutritional value. You can bake quinoa into patty forms and it mixes well with any ingredient, as long as you season properly. There's also bean based "pasta" available at any grocery store that's high in protein and tastes identical to traditional pasta.
Looking for a way to sub out gravy? Instead of cornstarch or flour, try adding in rolled oats, almond flour, or ground flaxseeds. A great way for an all plant based gravy is to boil your favorite mix of veggies and beans and blend it together with a thickener like oats and coconut milk! Eggplants, squash, cauliflower, chickpeas, avocado, hummus, yogurt, and applesauce all work out great for this.
Mashed cauliflower can surely replace your regular mashed potatoes and requires less time in the kitchen. You can also use cauliflower as a base to sub out pasta for that mac and cheese along with adding in barley or wild rice. There's even dairy free cheese, nut, and oat milk options to replace regular dairy. Squash is a great option too when spiraled or roasted for any side dish.
To finish it off, replace that apple pie with baked red apples. Remove the cores and drizzle with crushed pecans or walnuts, rolled oats, cinnamon, and unfiltered honey. Add a scoop of your favorite ice cream when it comes out of the oven for the final touch. Add some protein on top with drizzled nut butter. Pears work out great for this too!
When you're prepping meals this holiday season, keep in mind you can replace almost every main ingredient with a healthier alternative. It's all about balance and moderation, make sure to enjoy yourself without over indulging. Cooking with healthier ingredients doesn't mean you're skipping out on the flavor. We hope you enjoy yourself, family, and friends as you gather around the table this holiday season. Make sure to detox and sweat it out pre and post holiday gatherings to feel your very best inside and out!