I love the holidays. Fall and winter bring many festivities – from Halloween and Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Years. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and making new memories. And then, of course, there’s the food.
I love to eat, especially when someone else cooks it and puts it on the table in front of me to enjoy. Unfortunately, I enjoy all of the tasty fall and winter treats that are bad for me. I have been known to raid my kids’ Halloween candy after they go to bed. I live for all the fattening Thanksgiving foods like stuffing and pumpkin pie.
So, I have made a resolution to TRY to eat healthier this holiday season. I did some research on the worst and best foods to eat during the fall and winter months.
First, here’s a list of the 7 most fattening foods for fall and winter:
Fall drinks, such as hot chocolate, eggnog, apple cider, flavored lattes, and hot toddies, are loaded with extra calories. While they are absolutely delicious, they contain anywhere from 200 to almost 400 empty calories. I have found green teas that offer great cold-weather flavors and provide antioxidants without the added calories.
I am a big fan of pie. In fact, there are very few types of pie that I won’t eat. While pie often starts out with a healthy fruit, nut or vegetable filling, it may then become loaded down with heavy pie crusts, sweeteners and ice cream toppings. Try to skip the crust, cut a small piece, and opt for a light whipped topping.
Creamy, delicious soups
There’s nothing like a bowl of hot soup to ward off the chill of long winter months. Yet, soups or stews that are loaded with cream, cheese or meat may also have too many calories. Add in a bread bowl, rice or noodles and you’ve loaded on even more calories. Broth and vegetable-based soups can fill you up with fewer calories.
Stuffing can be filled with high-fat additions such as sausage and butter. Plus, stuffing is even better with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. You can make a low-fat stuffing with fruits, vegetables and stock – and go easy on the gravy.
Comforting mac and cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a staple for most kids and a blast from the past for adults. One cup of mac and cheese can contain 300 to 400 calories. To lower the calories, use low-fat cheese and low-fat milk.
Dreamy mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes are another yummy, comfort food. Many recipes rely on butter, heavy cream and whole milk to bump up the flavor. Substitute low-fat options for healthier mashed potatoes.
Scrumptious pumpkin desserts
Pumpkin on its own is good for you. Make it into a pie, cake or other rich dessert and you negate the health benefits. Pumpkin muffins or custard can be a low-fat alternative.
Now, it’s time to put these wonderful, tasty and fattening foods out of your mind and focus on healthy, nutritious alternatives. With a little Internet research, you can find easy recipes to create good-for-you holiday dishes that everyone can enjoy.
Here are 12 healthy fall foods that are sure to be a hit with friends and family:
Turkey is a good winter food. It’s lean and packed with protein. It’s also low in calories. In addition to being a traditional entree for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, you can also enjoy turkey in soups or as a hearty sandwich on whole-grain bread with veggies for toppings.
Sweet potatoes offer much more nutritional content than white potatoes. They are filled with fiber and protein and provide vitamins A, C and B6, as well as minerals such as potassium and manganese. Sweet potatoes also work in a variety of dishes from sides to desserts.
Winter squash has a fine texture and sweeter flavor. Squash is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. To maintain the nutritional value, it’s best to bake, grill or fry squash without adding butter or syrup. Try low-fat margarine, brown sugar, applesauce, or cinnamon and ginger as seasonings.
As we mentioned under the fattening foods, pumpkin is good for you. This vegetable is a good source of fiber and is full of vitamins and nutrients, including iron, magnesium, potassium, niacin, and vitamins A and C. Pumpkin does contain natural sugar so keep recipes simple by not adding extra sugar.
Beets are high in fiber, potassium, iron and vitamin C. Beets are sweet and can be roasted as a side dish or added to salads for a splash of color.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, C and B6, and contain potassium, thiamin and fiber. Grated, sliced or diced carrots add a great garnish to dishes and provide many health benefits.
While broccoli gets a bad rap, it is a power vegetable containing vitamins A, C and B6 as well as being high in potassium, manganese and fiber.
Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable known for their health benefits, is loaded with nutrition. It’s full of vitamins, nutrients and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can be added to a variety of dishes to give them a healthy boost.
Cauliflower makes a great side dish or addition to other vegetable dishes. It can be steamed, grilled, roasted or mashed like potatoes. Cauliflower is a great source for vitamin C and may help prevent cancer and lower cholesterol.
Many varieties of citrus fruits are available during the winter months, including mandarin oranges, tangerines, blood oranges and clementines. Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and high in fiber.
Apples and pears
Apples and pears are high in fiber and a good source of vitamin C. They are good for you when eaten raw or baked into side dishes.
Fresh cranberries are available during the fall and winter months. Cranberries are low in calories and contain fiber and vitamin C. Add them to salads, muffins or as toppings for side dishes.
Figs and dates
Figs are high in sugar, but they contain fiber and add a great flavor to fall dishes. Dates are also sweet, provide fiber and potassium, and can be added to salads, fruit dishes and desserts.
It’s easy to make traditional holiday dishes and comfort foods during the cold fall and winter months. However, you can break from tradition and switch out those fattening foods with healthier alternatives. Hop on the Internet and search for recipes you can make with the nutritious fruits and vegetables listed above.
Do you have healthy dishes you enjoy fixing during the holidays? Please feel free to pass on your favorite recipes.