I love this time of year – the holiday spirit, spending time with family, cooking with friends and of course enjoying the delicious food. Most of the traditional holiday dishes come with a price… Amidst all the heavy food on the dinner table, there are actually a few dishes that are good for you! I’ve put together a guide of foods to eat and avoid – so you can enjoy every aspect of the silly season without packing on the pounds! While you are at it, if you feel like you need a mini detox during the holidays try my new 3 Day Holiday Reset which includes a meal plan that will leave you feeling energized, help to lose belly bloat and feel great all together.
Holiday Foods That Are Actually Good For You:
- Yams – Yams are full of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, as well as, being a good source of dietary fiber and potassium. In a medium sized yam, you already get more than enough of your daily vitamin A requirement and a third of your vitamin C requirement! What a nutritional powerhouse!
- Green Beans – Green beans are one of the healthiest foods you can eat during the holidays especially when boiled or steamed! One cup of green beans contain 10% of your daily folate requirement, virtually no fat and 4 grams of fiber! They are packed with folate, iron and vitamins A, C and K.
- Turkey – Turkey is actually one of the lower-calorie protein sources you can eat! Keep in mind – portion control! Women should stick to 3-4 oz. of lean Turkey while men can have up to 6-7 oz. The high levels of Vitamin B12 that turkey provides us with are essential for the body’s nerve and blood function. Turkey meat is also rich in potassium, iron, and zinc! It’s an excellent source of selenium, which boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant.
- Brussel Sprouts – 1 cup of Brussel sprouts contains all of your daily requirement for immune boosting Vitamin K and C. Brussels are high in fiber, so filling up on them will keep you satiated for longer and promote healthy digestion.
- Cranberries – These berries are a great superfood! They’re full of antioxidants and work wonderfully for your digestion. Cranberries have anti-inflammatory properties and can boost the immune system.
- Acorn Squash – Acorn soup, stuffed acorn and many other Thanksgiving dishes feature this delectable veggie. Acorn squash contains a bioavailable form of beta carotene – a pigment known to protect against heart disease and cancers. It’s also an anti-inflammatory food, which helps to fight chronic inflammation.
Holiday Foods That Aren’t Worth The Calories:
- Dips – Specifically creamy dishes such as spinach artichoke dip. Most of the time, you’re not even sure what’s in these dips (just like how a spinach artichoke dip sounds like it’s full of veggies but is mainly made of cheese and cream). They are normally filled with saturated fats, a ton of sodium and are very high in calories. I recommend a fiber packed hummus paired with vegetable crudités. It looks beautiful and it is much more nutritious.
- Mashed Potatoes – In their natural state, potatoes do offer a good variety of nutrients. However, most of the time, mashed potatoes are prepared with a clump of butter, sour-cream, and heavy cream which adds way too much saturated fat to our diet. Instead, make cauliflower mash and use Greek yogurt in place of heavy cream and butter.
- Pecan Pie – Pecans are naturally a high-calorie nut on their own so throw a bunch of sugar, butter and corn syrup and you’re just asking for a cocktail of calories and fat. Just one slice of this pie typically has over 500 calories. The crust is normally a big source of artery-clogging saturated fat as well. For a lighter alternative, try making a gluten-free apple crumble.
- Eggnog – This holiday drink is basically just a festival of fat and sugar. It is made of heavy cream, milk, sugar, raw eggs and an alcohol like brandy. Despite the fact that you are risking salmonella, just one small glass contains 250 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat! Do you really think it’s worth it? For a more nutritious and equally delicious festive drink, try a diary-free hot chocolate.
- Mac and Cheese – Between the pasta, cheese, cream and breadcrumbs, a small serving of mac and cheese serves you more than a whole meal’s worth of sodium and calories. This is a zero – nutrition kind of dish and is full of ingredients that will leave you feeling inflamed and bloated the next few days. Instead, try this palmini pasta with dairy-free, creamy butternut squash sauce.
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