18 Healthy Holiday Ingredient Swaps

Roasted turkey, candied yams, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, fruitcake, eggnog—'tis the season of eating. And while there's nothing wrong with a little indulgence, too much could cause the dreaded 1- to 5-pound holiday weight gain.

To ensure you don't pack on the pounds this holiday season, swap high-fat, high-sodium, high-sugar, processed ingredients for more wholesome fixings. This way, you and your family can enjoy all the good eats without sacrificing your health.

These swaps, suggested by Certified Health Coach Mary Beth Gierlinger and Personal Chef Claude "Chef Garbo" Garbarino, cut calories and fat while still preserving flavor.

Basic Cooking Swaps

Before giving holiday standards a nutritional overhaul, Garbarino recommends these basic ingredient swaps.

  • Replace olive oil, butter and other fats with organic coconut oil. Or, do a half and half mixture of fats. Coconut oil has been shown to reduce cholesterol, improve thyroid functioning, protect against illness-causing bacteria and viruses, and aid digestion.
  • Use naturally harvested Celtic sea salt in place of processed salt, which contains additives.
  • Sweeten foods and beverages with grade B maple syrup instead of sugar. Grade B maple syrup—named for its dark caramel color, not its quality—is a natural source for beneficial minerals.

More: Chocolate Banana Bread Made With Maple Syrup

Stuffing and Dressing Swaps

Holiday meals are a carb-lover's dream: stuffing, rolls, potatoes, cakes and more. But these kinds of carbs can make a meal too heavy. Additionally, some people are bothered by wheat, which can cause an inflammatory reaction.

Replace bread-based stuffing with organic corn bread or serve a hearty fall side dish prepared with quinoa or wild rice instead. Roasted wild mushrooms, nuts and dried fruit added to quinoa or wild rice add color and texture while enhancing the complexity of flavors.

More: 5 Super Grains and Recipes

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