If “the holidays” were just Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, none of us would have to worry about gaining weight this time of year. We could simply enjoy those two meals.
However, the reality is the holiday season is actually a food-filled extravaganza that stretches from Thanksgiving straight through New Year’s Day. And with practically six weeks of holiday parties, get togethers, meals and munchies laid out before us is it really any wonder that we’re in danger of putting on a few pounds?
But now that it’s time to plan your own festivities you want to keep it fun AND healthy. You don’t want to be the Scrooge who only offers celery sticks and water at the party. But you don’t want to add to the problem… and the pounds… either.
Good news, you don’t have to.
You can pull off celebrations your guests will still love, while offering them some smarter options. And your holiday parties will still be a huge hit, without making you huge.
Four “smarter” FOOD swaps for your holiday parties
With these “smarter” food swaps you’ll still be indulging, but the hit to your waistline won’t be so hard.
1. Skip the meat and cheese plate:
The nitrates, preservatives and unhealthy fats found in most cold cuts are never a good choice, no matter the serving size. And while a few cubes of cheese is a perfectly healthy snack, cheese trays often led to overeating. Because, let’s be honest, who only eats a few at a party?
Serve wild-caught shrimp cocktail instead:
Skewer three large prawns and offer cocktail sauce and pesto on the side. You’ll have a delicious, attractive holiday dish that’s a smarter choice for you and your guests.
But be sure to read labels. Look for ones certified by an independent agency, such as the Wild American Shrimp or the Marine Stewardship Council. If you have trouble finding a certification pick wild-caught shrimp from North America which experts say are more likely to have been sustainably caught.
2. Skip the traditional spinach dip:
Sure, the spinach dip is always a hit. Hot or cold, served bubbling or out of a bread bowl, it’s a party favorite. But the mayonnaise most recipes call for is typically 80 percent inflammatory soybean oil. And the finished dish is a calorie bomb.
Serve “smarter” spinach dip:
You don’t want to deny your guests their favorite party dish, so just make a couple of simple tweaks to the traditional recipe. Replace the sour cream with creamy, protein packed, plain Greek yogurt instead. And substitute the usual mayo with a healthier version made with olive or avocado oil. Or better yet, make your own. Don’t worry, it’s super easy!
Combine two raw egg yolks, one cup of high quality avocado oil or light olive oil and two tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice.
And just like that, your spinach dip isn’t just kinder to your waistline it’s healthier, too. Serve it with veggies and homemade veggie chips instead of chunks of bread.
3. Skip the finger sandwiches:
When you want to serve something more substantial, finger sandwiches can be a good choice. But why not replace the traditional carb-heavy version with a healthier option that’s just as satisfying?
Serve Mediterranean pinwheels:
Pick up some lower carb wraps or mini pita breads. Stuff with hummus, roasted peppers, olives and tzatziki. If you’re using wraps, slice them into four finger size servings.
This fresh take on a finger sandwich is filling and bursting with flavor. But by replacing the bulky roll with a lower carb bread, you’ve transformed it into a smarter option.
4. Skip the cookies:
One Christmas cookie isn’t going to do much damage. However faced with a cookie platter few folks can stop at just one.
But you don’t have to skip the sweet stuff completely!
Serve dark chocolates:
Put out a selection of decadent dark chocolates instead of the cookie tray.
With so many fun options to choose from these days, including fancy fruit and nut topped versions, your guests won’t miss the cookies one little bit. But they’ll be eating less sugar and filling up on disease-fighting antioxidants at the same time.
Two “smarter” DRINK swaps for your holiday parties
Don’t stop at the food. Give your drinks a makeover too.
1. Skip the egg nog:
Old-fashioned egg nog is more of a dessert than a drink. Traditional recipes call for one to two cups of sugar, as well as up to two cups of rum or brandy. And a single serving clocks in at 200+ calories.
Serve homemade hot chocolate:
Start a new tradition by serving homemade hot chocolate instead. Mix one cup of milk, two to three teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, up to a half a teaspoon of stevia and a teaspoon of organic vanilla extract per serving.
Take it to the next level by laying out some add-ons such as cinnamon, nutmeg and peppermint oil for your guests to customize their mug. And for those folks who want to add some extra cheer offer a splash of brandy or peppermint schnapps.
2. Skip the traditional cocktails:
Old-fashioned cocktails, made with sugary mixers add tons of empty calories to your evening. And the “diet” versions that have popped up on store shelves are terrible too, packed with unhealthy artificial sweeteners which, ironically, can cause you to pack on pounds too.
Serve champagne or wine spritzers:
For many folks a holiday party simply isn’t complete without a few sips of an alcoholic drink. But you don’t have to serve sugary cocktails to spread the holiday cheer. Opt for sophisticated and elegant champagne, or a light white wine spritzer made with seltzer, instead.
Be the hostess with the mostess this year. Using these simple swaps your holiday parties will be both fun and healthy.