3. Harness the Diet Power of Produce
Add more simple vegetable and fruit dishes to your menu instead of heavy dishes with sauces. Your guests will fill up on healthy fiber without lots of extra calories.
For example, green bean almandine with a squeeze of lemon is healthier than traditional green bean casserole. Simple peas or corn are healthier than creamed peas or corn. But if you must have casserole, use low-fat soup, increase the veggies, and top it with a crunchy whole-grain cereal instead of fried onions.
4. Go Frozen in Winter
Fresh is usually the best when fruits and vegetables are in season. But when prices are high in winter, head to the frozen food aisle.
“Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually less expensive and can be more nutritious because they are picked at their peak ripeness and frozen immediately” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Sarah Krieger, RD. Buy frozen produce in bags, use only what you need, and save more by not wasting spoiled produce.
Canned foods can also be a healthy option. Read the nutrition labels to find fruits and vegetables with less added sodium and sugar, Krieger says. Reduce the sodium and sugar solutions even more by rinsing the vegetable or fruit under cold water before you cook.
5. Respect Special Requests
As you plan your holiday menu, ask if guests have any food preferences or intolerances. For example, a dear friend may be lactose intolerant. A favorite cousin may have cut red meat from his diet.
You can’t please everyone. But you can include a wide variety of healthy foods. Then, your guests can pick and choose, filling their plate with a satisfying meal no matter their food issue.
6. Shave Calories With Simple Swaps
Create healthier versions of your holiday favorites by shaving calories wherever you can.
“Simple swaps of lower-fat ingredients are easy ways to save calories -- and no one will even notice the difference” says Cheryl Forberg, RD, nutritionist for the television series, The Biggest Loser.
Use chicken stock, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese, and low-fat milk in place of high-fat ingredients. Substitute non-fat yogurt or applesauce for oil in baked goods.
7. Roast or Grill for Rich Flavor With Fewer Calories
Roasting or grilling meat, seafood, vegetables, and potatoes, is a simple, low-calorie cooking style that brings out the natural sweetness and flavor in foods.
Roasted sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a spritz of butter spray are delicious substitutes for the traditional calorie-laden casserole.
Grilled pork chops served with a mango salsa are great to replace pork chops slathered in mushroom cream.
8. Serve Healthier Desserts
For dessert, try chocolate-dipped strawberries for a colorful and delicious finale.