How to make holiday foods healthier

How to make holiday foods healthier

Author: Canadian Living


How to make holiday foods healthier

As the holidays approach, food, wine and tempting indulgences are all around us. Instead of throwing all of your health and weight-loss plans by the curb – and gaining an unwanted five pounds – you can make your holiday celebration healthy by choosing delicious alternatives to some of your old favorites.

3 healthy alternatives
Instead of:
Mashed white potatoes (mixed with cream, butter and/our full-fat sour cream)
Try: Mashed sweet potatoes
Packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene, folic acid and potassium, sweet potatoes are a great holiday side dish and are as nutritious as they are delicious. In fact, a medium-size sweet potato contains just 160 calories and offers three grams of fibre. Have fun toppings such as low-fat sour cream, sautéed mushrooms and onions, or some capers.

Instead of: White rice
Try: Quinoa
Quinoa is technically a seed and has gained enormous popularity due to its high protein levels (it’s a complete protein, containing all eight essential amino acids) and because it’s gluten-free. Cooked quinoa is excellent in hot casseroles, soups, stews and stir-fries, or cold in salads. (Check out Dr. Joey's quinoa recipe on the next page).

Instead of: Traditional protein sources
Try: Alternative proteins
Incorporate some alternative protein options into your holiday feast such as edamame (shelled soy beans) or shirataki noodles. Shiratki noodles are low carbohydrate, translucent Japanese noodles that are also gluten-free. They are mostly comprised of a dietary fibre called glucomannan and contain very few calories. Although they do not have much flavor on their own, they absorb other ingredients (such as tomatoes or soy sauce) well. Tossed with a variety of vegetables, they are a good option for a holiday side dish.

This article is part of Canadian Living's 60-Day Holiday Countdown. Don't miss a day of our exclusive holiday recipes, baking and organizing tips, decorating and gift ideas, and more.

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Page 1 of 2 - find more healthy holiday tips on page 2.

Here are a few other healthy and palate-pleasing holiday tips:
• For dessert, put out a fruit plate loaded with fresh berries.

• Toss some high- antioxidant wild blueberries or goji berries into your salad.

• Offer appetizers made with wild smoked salmon for a boost of omega-3s.

• Always have a veggie tray handy with low-fat ranch dip or hummus.

• Include two or three salads and vegetable options for your health-conscious guest.

• Have some alcohol-free beverage options available, such as sparkling water and cranberry juice.

• Serve whole grain crackers for your guests to use with dips and spreads.

• When baking, experiment with alternative flours such as almond, quinoa, kamut or spelt.

• Add in some grated zucchini, carrots, applesauce or mashed bananas to baked goods for an extra punch of nutrition.

This holiday season enjoy all of your festivities in a fun, healthy and delicious manner. Bon appétit!

Need more help getting your holiday meal organized? 
We have great tips and tricks to help you pull it all together.

Dr. Shulman special recipe:
Toasted Almond and Mandarin Orange Quinoa Salad

• 2 cups, quinoa, rinsed well
• 3 cups, water
• 2 cans (284 mL each) mandarin orange segments
• 1 red pepper, thinly sliced into strips
• 1 bunch, green onion, chopped
• 100 grams slivered almonds, lightly toasted

• ½ cup of orange juice
• 1 large seedless orange, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp, finely chopped cilantro
• 1 tsp, minced ginger
• 1 tsp, sesame oil

1. Rinse quinoa well
2. Combine quinoa with water; bring to boil, cover with tight-fitting lid and simmer for 12-15 minutes
3. Fluff quinoa with fork
4. Add in orange segments, pepper, onions and almonds and mix
5. Combine all ingredients for sauce and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
6. Drizzle sauce over quinoa and enjoy!

Serves: 6

*Please note: This is not a Canadian Living Tested Till Perfect recipe and has not been tried out by The Test Kitchen.

Courtesy of and


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How to make holiday foods healthier