With so much to celebrate during the holiday season, it’s easy for hard-won healthy eating habits to fall by the wayside. Giving yourself permission to enjoy your favorite foods is a healthy part of mindful eating. But, if you have special nutritional needs or you just want to eat more healthfully during the holidays, there’s an easy way to savor your favorite foods that doesn’t take you off-track.
One simple way to enjoy holiday favorites while still getting plenty of essential nutrients is to make healthy food swaps. Try these five deliciously satisfying substitutes for your seasonal dinner table — or any time.
- Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, mayo or heavy cream
Use Greek yogurt for recipes that call for sour cream, mayonnaise or heavy cream in soups. Not only will this pack in a small punch of protein, but it also saves on saturated fat and calories while providing that familiar creaminess.
- Olive oil instead of butter
Butter has around 7 grams of saturated fat, while olive oil has around 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, which makes olive oil a heart-healthy alternative. Olive oil is also beneficial for nails and skin.
- Pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie
While both are delicious, pumpkin pie averages 300 calories per slice while pecan pie packs in about 500 calories. Since pumpkin is the star ingredient of pumpkin pie, it is higher in vitamin A and lutein, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that is important for eye health.
- Oat milk eggnog instead of whole milk or heavy cream eggnog
Oat milk tends to be creamier than most milk alternatives on the market. Oat milk is lower in calories, fat and saturated fat, making it a healthier swap. Using oat milk may give eggnog a lighter mouthfeel as well.
- Cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes
Cauliflower is full of fiber while also being lower in calories and carbohydrates than potatoes. Cauliflower is also rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Kailey Proctor, M.P.H., R.D.N., C.S.O., is a clinical dietitian and board-certified specialist in oncology nutrition at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center.