With the most wonderful time of the year comes beautiful frosty weather, decorations abound, and plenty of tasty treats. Enjoying food together is one of the great joys of life, but as we embark on this month of festivities, a great way to make your holidays a little lighter is to put a healthy spin on some of your favorite dishes.
Read on for a few tasty but straightforward recipes that can be added to the December lineup!
For this quick helping of nutritious veg, start with 1.5 pounds of brussels sprouts and slice in half. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then drizzle a mix of 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of honey. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes or until done. A single chop for each brussels sprout makes this a no-fuss classic, and it’s an added win if you toss, roast, and serve the sprouts in the same pan because almost zero cleanup is required! The best secret behind this recipe? Apply this basic formula (chop, season, toss, roast at 400°) to any root vegetable and it’s going to be delicious.
Brussels sprouts are low in calories and a good source of fiber to help you feel full, but contain plenty of vitamins C and K and folate, among other beneficial nutrients. They are also a cold-weather crop, so a great example of eating seasonally.
You just can’t beat this classic — and when it comes to health, a roasted bird (turkey or chicken) checks out. It’s a lean protein source and a lower salt option than other traditional holiday entrees like ham. Cook your turkey in its own juices and remove the skin to decrease its saturated fat content, skip the brine to keep it low in sodium, and use plenty of herbs and spices to flavor it. Fill the cavity with aromatics and onion, apple, and lemon, or orange rather than stuffing.
A fresh take on turkey can be viewing your meat as more of a “garnish” rather than the main deal. While your bird cooks for the final 30-40 minutes, toss in a tray of thinly sliced winter squash and root vegetables, such as delicata and acorn squash, japanese sweet potatoes or beets, with just enough olive oil to coat. This can add color and a healthy and filling starch to a generous bed of greens. Add a sprinkle of pistachios, thinly sliced parmesan, pomegranate, and a drizzle of a vinaigrette dressing for an easy yet special and festive salad. Top with a 3-ounce (deck of cards) serving of turkey.
Move over, yule log — there’s an easier cake on the scene! Although its structure may look complex (yes, there is some wrapping of actual cake involved), it easily comes out of the pan on a sheet of waxed paper and takes less than 15 minutes in the oven. Substitute whipped cream as the filling for less sugar, and use a healthier recipe for the cake that includes whole wheat pastry flour or pumpkin. If you do end up wanting to get fancy, you can coat with chocolate frosting and etch bark-like patterns all over it a la yule log or dust with powdered sugar and throw some decorative berries on top and call it good!
There are so many ideas out there for healthier twists on our favorites — the possibilities are endless! In baked goods, look for recipes that substitute unhealthy fats like butter for alternatives such as nut butters, smaller amounts of healthier oils like olive or avocado, or veggie purees. Sugar can often be cut significantly without altering the end product, and with a wide spectrum of milk options (whole, 2%, skim, non-dairy, etc), there are plenty of ways to take the fat content down a notch. Aim for meals that reflect the plate method — half a plate of non-starchy veggies, a quarter plate of protein and the remaining quarter starchy whole grains or veggies. This helps you keep portions and overall calorie intake balanced.
If you’re looking for support in staying healthy over the holidays, your care team at Firefly is here for you! Book a visit with your care team today, or speak with your Health Guide for personalized tips. Not a member yet? Get started by signing up below, take our quiz, or call us at (855) 869-9284 to see if our continuous, coordinated care model is right for you.