Holidays are filled with foods that you might normally try to avoid.
Dining room tables are covered with potatoes, stuffing, glazed vegetables and meats, marshmallow-topped casseroles, dumplings, breads, and more. Appetizer trays feature crackers and crostini and fried treats of all kinds. Fudge and candy plates abound. You may have invites already for holiday baking or cookie parties.
And of course, there are the sweet drinks to wash it all down, from hot chocolate to egg nog and holiday cocktails, sodas to holiday brews.
So it’s probably no surprise that we wind up consuming anywhere from 3000 to 4500 calories just on a single holiday feast.
If you’re looking to manage your carb intake over the holidays, you’re not alone. Of course, it may not be possible to remove them entirely – or even desirable, considering the strong ties between holiday foods and traditions.
Even so, replacing some standard sides with slightly healthier versions or subbing a few key ingredients can really make a difference. Here are 7 alternatives to help get you thinking creatively about your meals this holiday season:
Consider an alternative eggnog like this from So Delicious – less than half the calories and a fraction of the carbs. Of course, it still contains some sugar. If you want to go sugar-free, there are great recipes online such as this one, which uses stevia in place of the sugar.
Mix in some gluten-free or vegan recipes with some of your standards. You’ll find some recipes to get you started here and here.
Don’t forget the salad! Salads can be very pretty with colorful vegetables, a little dried fruit, and some nuts or feta cheese.
Consider soups thickened and made creamier with pureed vegetables such as carrots or squash.
Try a side dish heavier in vegetables with less (or no) pasta, like this Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Casserole, for instance.
Replace traditional noodles with spaghetti squash or spiralized vegetables.
Sweet potato casserole, mixed with a little whole fat coconut milk and cinnamon, can be a great replacement for the standard pumpkin pie (and tastes very similar!).
And if you want to stick with tradition and carb out as you please?
Maybe think about a fitness or nutrition challenge with a few friends or coworkers after the season has passed. Or think about signing up for a holiday fun run. Getting in a quick 5K or one-mile run with your family or friends could be the start of a new tradition and a great way to introduce a balance of healthy living with holiday indulgence.
Image by Jessica Spengler