Many of us are resigned to gaining a little bit of weight during the holidays, but when you’re on a diet plan or trying hard to stay in shape, you don’t want your indulgences affecting the number on the scale. You can still enjoy all of the delicious flavors of holiday meals and parties without derailing your progress or negatively affecting your health. Here are 12 nutritious alternatives to classic holiday dishes, from brunch casserole to cheesecake trifle.
Breakfast: Egg and Hash Brown Casserole
Start Christmas Day with a healthy, easy breakfast that can be prepared a day ahead and baked in the morning. This egg and hash brown casserole gets lots of protein from eggs and is packed with veggies like spinach and mushrooms. Basil, bacon and swiss cheese add loads of flavor, and it’s made with low-fat milk.
Side: Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce Sweetened with Pineapple Juice
Cranberry sauce is an essential part of holiday dinners, but the canned stuff is just plain gross, and most recipes are loaded with sugar to tone down the tartness of the berries. An alternative from Wellness Mama keeps all the flavor but replaces sugar with pineapple juice and applesauce, along with a little bit of honey.
Side: Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots
White potatoes are delicious, but they’re kind of an insulin nightmare, causing blood sugar to spike. Go with sweet potatoes instead, which have more fiber and take the body more time to process. This recipe from MyRecipes.com adds rosemary and shallots.
Side: Hasselback Potatoes
Instead of calorie and fat-heavy scalloped potatoes, try these hasselback potatoes. They’re super easy to make – no peeling required, so you get the extra vitamins and minerals from the skin. You just cut thin slices into a baking potato, add some butter and garlic, and bake. They look pretty, and the slices get all crispy in the oven.
Appetizer: Butternut Sage Crostini
Butternut and sage are two essential flavors of fall and winter, and they come together in this Better Homes and Gardens recipe as a spread for crostini.
Main Dish: Whole Baked Salmon
Forgo the fatty, sugary holiday ham in favor of an Omega fatty acid-rich baked salmon. It takes less time to cook, it’s healthier, and it’s incredibly flavorful.
Appetizer: Ginger Miso Sweet Pea Spread
Spicy, healthy, vegetarian and dairy-free, this miso ginger sweet pea spread is an unexpected choice for appetizers.
Light Spinach Artichoke Dip
Spinach artichoke dip is a favorite for any potluck or party, but it’s almost always super-fattening. Healthy chef Ellie Krieger offers a version that cuts down the fat and calories, but keeps the flavor.
Side: Healthy Green Bean Casserole
Another holiday classic, green bean casserole typically includes either cream of mushroom soup or a homemade version made with heavy cream. The Lean Green Bean (appropriately enough) provides a healthier version using greek yogurt and skim milk.
Drink: Healthy Egg Nog Protein Shake
You won’t feel so guilty about all of the calories contained in a typical glass of egg nog when you’re sipping on this creation from Chocolate Covered Katie, which is actually a protein shake (rum optional.)
Dessert: Skinny Berry Cheesecake Trifle
This skinny berry cheesecake trifle from Jeanette’s Healthy Living looks every bit as impressive as any other fancy holiday dessert, but it’s lightened up with cottage cheese and greek yogurt, and only contains two tablespoons of sugar.
Dessert: Streuseled Zucchini Bundt Cake
Perfect for dessert, snack or brunch, this streuseled zucchini bundt cake looks festive and is brimming with zucchini, yogurt, walnuts and raisins.