The holidays are here and we're in the thick of potluck season. Whether it's the annual office holiday party, family gatherings, or ringing in the new year with our besties, there are loads of opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry with our nearest and dearest - which is great for our taste buds, but not necessarily so great for our waistlines.
Luckily, with a few strategic swaps in our favorite holiday fare, we can still indulge in the season's crowd pleasing classics without sacrificing flavor or our wellness goals. These 7 hacks range from appetizers, mains, sides, condiments, and sweet treats, so whatever the occasion, your healthy, holiday recipe needs are covered.
1. Swap Sour Cream for Greek Yogurt - Whether you're whipping up a killer French onion dip, a delectable dill sauce for salmon puffs, some sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, or your great aunt Glady's ambrosia fruit salad, Greek yogurt makes a creamy, zingy substitute for sour cream that is lower in saturated fat and higher in filling protein. Just make sure you're using the unsweetened kind.
2. Sneak Edamame into Guacamole or Hummus - Most holiday potluck spreads feature an impressive dip selection, but many can be exceptionally high in fat. That's where edamame comes in. Replace half the avocado in guacamole or half the tahini in hummus with blended edamame and you've got two festively green, higher protein, lower fat dips to slather on your favorite chips or crudite without giving up any of the flavor. Edamame will not only add satiating volume, but the added protein will keep you satisfied longer too.
3. Give Creamy Salad Dressings a Low Calorie, High Protein Makeover By Using Silken Tofu Instead of Mayo - Silken tofu may not seem like the obvious choice to replace seriously high calorie mayo, but with it's velvety texture and neutral flavor, and when you add salt, herbs, seasonings, and acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar, you'll be none the wiser once you blend it up and drizzle it over a variety of salads or vegetable sides.
4. For Delicious, Yet Lower Calorie Roasted Vegetables, Make Friends With Your Air Fryer - From butternut squash, to Brussels sprouts, to fingerling potatoes, roasting is an excellent way to make vegetables shine with crispy, caramelized goodness. The only problem is the sometimes excessive amount of oil that is needed to make that happen in a traditional oven. That's where your air fryer or convection oven comes in. You can get the same roasted effect on your veggies with a fraction of the oil AND a fraction of the time. Just season and toss with a quick coating of spray oil before cooking and you're good to go.
5. Trade Higher Fat Proteins For Their Leaner Counterparts - Proteins are usually the star of any celebratory table, but for all their savory, filling, crowd pleasing prowess, they often come with a hefty percentage of fat. Why not serve stuffed turkey breasts instead of notoriously fatty dark meat, pork loin instead of spiralized ham, put turkey sausage in the stuffing instead of pork, or forego animal proteins altogether and consider serving some plant-based proteins such as maple glazed tempeh, herb crusted tofu, or a savory seitan roast?
6. Use Applesauce In Place of Oil For Lighter, But Still Delectably Moist Baked Treats - Whether it's spiced quick breads, muffins, or brownies, dry baked goods are the ultimate humbug. Luckily for us (and our scales), applesauce is an excellent, healthy stand in for oil. Not only does it create tender, moist, and delightfully sweet treats, it's much lower calorie and fat free.
7. Ditch Cane Sugar For Natural, Lower Glycemic Sweeteners - Indulging in decadent desserts is certainly one of the highlights of the holiday season, but it can also come with some serious lows in the form of the inevitable sugar crash, not to mention the loads of fairly empty calories. One way to offset this is to swap cane sugar in your desserts, relishes, and candies for higher fiber, lower glycemic sweeteners such as blended dates, date sugar, monk fruit, or stevia - just to name a few. Make sure to check packaging for sugar to sweetener ratios.
By using any or ALL of these recipe hacks, your next healthy holiday potluck will certainly be something to celebrate!