Share The Health

5 Creative Ways to Lighten Up a Holiday Meal


The holiday season is notorious for packing on the extra pounds. Most of us are eating foods we don’t normally indulge in on a regular basis; and let’s not forget all the extra cookies, treats, and holiday beverages. Those extra calories have a tendency to add up, and according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.

In an effort to help you avoid those holiday pounds, we’ve come up with 5 creative ways to lighten up a holiday meal:

Substitute with Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt can be used as a 1:1 substitute for several high calorie/high fat ingredients like cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and buttermilk.

You can even use Greek yogurt to make a healthier version of cream cheese frosting! Try mixing 8 oz. of plain Greek yogurt with 2 tsp. of honey, and ½ cup powdered sugar. Whisk ingredients together, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half an hour. Now you have a lighter, healthier version of cream cheese frosting for your holiday cakes and cookies!

Lighten up those mashed potatoes

Cauliflower is a healthy replacement for potatoes when making mashed potatoes for holiday meals. There are lots of recipes available online, so a simple Google search should help you get started!

Add protein to your carb-heavy side dishes

Quinoa is packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals that cannot be found in rice. So try replacing rice with quinoa in casseroles and side dishes. Other healthy replacements include whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash, and zucchini.

Substitute with avocado

Did you know that 1 cup of pureed avocado can be used in place of 1 cup of butter? Avocados contain heart healthy fats called monosaturated fats. These fats are known to lower LDL cholesterol. Avocados are also packed with other vitamins and minerals that can’t be found in butter.

If you use the avocado swap when baking, it’s recommend that you decrease the oven temperature by 25% and increase your baking time to prevent the cake from browning too quickly.

Serve up healthy appetizers

Holiday appetizers often include cheeses, meats, and breads with higher fat content. To keep the calories and fat from adding up, serve fresh fruit, veggies, or a salad as an appetizer. A quick Pinterest search for “healthy holiday appetizers” yielded some delicious results; including a festive Christmas Tree Fruit Platter!

As you can see, there are lots of ways to lighten up a holiday meal. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can visit the Healthy Eating section of our blog for seasonal recipes.

Do you have any go-to recipes that you rely on this holiday season? Share them in the comments.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Events