Posted 2 years ago

Holiday Edition Eat This Not That

While an important part of having a healthy, mindful approach toward eating includes allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite foods, it’s also important to make sure you are still meeting your nutritional needs. With this in mind, there are many simple healthy holiday food swaps you can make. This way, you can enjoy delicious food while also getting plenty of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and healthy carbs and fats. Here are some ways to make the season healthier and happier with these holiday food swaps.

Eat this: Cauliflower Rice or Potatoes
Not that: Bread Stuffing or Mashed Potatoes

Reduce the amount of calories from fat and carbohydrates in this side by switching to cauliflower rice or potatoes. The cruciferous vegetable only has 25 calories per cup (compared to around 350 for a typical cup of stuffing or potatoes), as well as a healthy amount of fiber, vitamins C, K, B6 and potassium. If you just can’t go without bread stuffing, swap out white bread for whole grain bread, bulgur wheat or a couscous quinoa blend, which will provide more filling fiber to keep you satisfied.

Eat this: Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Not that: Candied Yams

 Candied yams recipes typically call for large amounts of butter and brown sugar plus that layer of marshmallows. Roasting sweet potatoes actually brings out their sweet flavor even more, so there’s no need to add extra sugar. If you want to go sweet rather than savory, sub in coconut oil and cinnamon.

 Eat this: Dips made with Greek Yogurt, Hummus or Salsa
Not that: Dips made with Sour Cream or a Spinach Artichoke Dip

 Try a Greek yogurt-based dips for those vegetables and other “dippables”.  It is lower in calories and fat, plus it has protein, calcium, and probiotics which are beneficial for gut health. Also good for dipping is salsa or bruschetta.  A quarter of a cup contains about 10 calories and zero grams of fat. These foods are made with tomatoes, which contain lycopene, an antioxidant that can aid in cancer prevention.

Eat this: Green Bean Almondine or Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Not that: Green Bean Casserole

 The traditional green bean casserole is doused in cream of mushroom soup, high-sodium soy sauce, and French fried onions–making this vegetable side much higher in calories than it should be.  Green Bean Almondine in a healthy low fat alternative that subs out the cream soup and French fried onions with toasted almonds, which will give you the same crunch along with a helping of healthy fats. If you’re ready to trade up for an even more nutrient-rich veggie side dish, try roasted Brussels sprouts.

Eat this: Spiralized Veggies or Spaghetti Squash

Not That: Traditional Noodles

 Whether it’s spaghetti marinara or mac n cheese, replace some or all of the noodles for spiralized veggies or spaghetti squash. This is an easy swap if you want more nutrients and fiber or are following a low-carb or gluten-free diet.  These fun colors are also a great way to get those veggies in your children.

Eat this: Plant Protein Main Entrée

Not That: Holiday Turkey or Ham

 In addition to providing the building blocks for healthy muscles and tissues, plant protein may also be beneficial for weight loss, heart health and Cancer prevention because they are lower in calories and fat than animal proteins but higher in fiber and essential nutrients. By swapping plant proteins for animal proteins, you can reduce your caloric intake and boost your daily nutrient profile.  Try adding chickpeas, lentils, tofu and quinoa, to name a few, into salads or use them to make a quick hummus, wrap or even a vegetarian burger or loaf.

 Eat this: Homemade or Almond Eggnog
Not that: Store bought Eggnog

 Eggnog is a high-calorie, sugary disaster, but there are healthy alternatives. Try a non-dairy alternative such as Almond Egg Nog (In store Brand: Califia) instead as it is much lower in calories, sugar, and saturated fat than traditional eggnog. Or if you make it yourself, you can make it with low fat milk and adjust the spices and sugar yourself–saving you at least half of those calories.

 Eat this: Peppermint Bark

Not that: Holiday Cookies

Go with the bark. While these hover around the same amount calorie-wise (1 oz of bark vs. 1 medium or two small cookies), the bark is more flavorful and satisfying, especially when it’s made from dark chocolate which is high in magnesium, copper, iron, potassium and antioxidants. It also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause large spikes in blood sugar levels that contribute to weight gain.  Holiday cookies are absolutely loaded with sugar, harmful fats and chemical food dyes.

Eat this: Pumpkin pie

Not that: Pecan Pie

 Pecans are a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and manganese, but when they are paired with the sugary syrup and a buttery, pie crust, the health benefits are quickly overshadowed.  One piece can contains up to 500 calories! Pumpkin has an impressive nutrient profile, particularly Vitamin A and loaded with antioxidants which can reduce your risk of chronic diseases.


Here are some EASY Yummy Holiday Recipes:

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil/butter
  • 1 clove garlic


  1. Saute minced garlic in coconut oil for a few minutes.
  2. Steam cauliflower until tender enough to easily poke with a fork.
  3. Transfer cauliflower and garlic into blender and add the coconut milk, coconut oil or butter.
  4. Blend until creamy mash develops, add more milk/coconut oil to get your desired consistency.
  5. Top with butter or raw cheese.
  6. Garnish with chives

Serves 3

Greek Yogurt Vegetable Dip


  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. chopped chives
  • 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper


  1. Mix all of the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor.
  2. It can be eaten right away, but it tastes better when it has had time for the flavors to blend together.

Roasted Green Beans Almondine


  • 1 pound fresh green beans– with the ends trimmed off
  • 3 tbsp olive oil– or other preferred high heat oil for roasting, like sunflower oil
  • 4 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • salt and pepper– to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and place the cleaned and trimmed green beans on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Then, drizzle the oil over the green beans. Sprinkle the top with sliced almonds, minced garlic, lemon zest, salt and black pepper. Toss to coat thoroughly.
  3. Next, spread the green beans out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until soft but still a bit firm.

Serves 3

The green beans should have a bit of snap to them, and be slightly caramelized and crispy on the edges. Leftover roasted green beans with almonds will keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Roasted Brussel Sprouts


  • 1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (or more to taste)

Toppings (optional):

  • Dried cranberries & pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C)
  2. Trim ends off Brussels sprouts and slice lengthwise in half. Remove any damaged outer leaves. Gently rinse and pat dry.
  3. In a large bowl, combine Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and salt. Toss well to coat.
  4. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Add Brussels sprouts mixture and spread out in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until desired tenderness, turning halfway through.
  6. Place on a serving plate and drizzle any leftover maple-balsamic juices over the top.

Optional: top with dried cranberries and pecans before serving.

Serves 3


Almond Nog


  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg


  1. Place almond milk, egg yolks, honey, extract, and nutmeg in blender; cover. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Heat eggnog mixture in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or just before mixture starts to boil. Mixture will be frothy at first and then will slightly thicken.
  3. Strain almond milk through a fine mesh strainer (or cheese cloth) before serving.
  4. Eggnog can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


Quinoa Stuffed Squash Boats


  • 4 delicata squash (about 12 ounces each)
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup salted pumpkin seeds or pepitas, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Cut each squash lengthwise in half; remove and discard seeds. Lightly brush cut sides with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake until tender, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine broth and quinoa; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.
  3. Stir in garbanzo beans, cranberries, green onion, sage, lemon zest, lemon juice and the remaining oil and salt; spoon into squash. Sprinkle with cheese and pumpkin seeds.