Special to The Tribune
AUBURN UNIVERSITY — Bright lights, festive music and overall cheer are usually associated with the holiday season. Another passion for many during what is dubbed the most wonderful time of the year is breaking out that family cookbook with recipes passed down through generations.
Holiday meals may not traditionally be thought of as full of healthy options. It’s important to remember that moderation is the key to eating holiday favorites. However, it’s also vital to think about sticking to good food choices to improve your mood, energy levels and general welfare.
“Staying healthy during the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to watch everyone around enjoy your favorite treats without you,” said Katie Funderburk, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialist and registered dietitian. “Enjoy the special things you like during holiday celebrations, while making healthier choices in your everyday life. Make a balanced plan in advance that includes the comfort foods you love most alongside more nutritious options you also enjoy. Plan for physical activity like walking or active games with your loved ones as a way to spend quality time together.”
With a little bit of help from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the USDA, the Alabama Extension at Auburn University Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) has a few tips to help with a healthier holiday and a few recipes to bring to the holiday meal.
The following tips are from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to suggest swapping out a few ingredients in those favorite recipes with some of these simple tips.
- Try low-sodium vegetable broth in mashed potatoes to add flavor and cut back on butter or margarine.
- Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick bread like banana bread. Try substituting a small amount at first, as too much may change the texture of the finished product.
- For dips and sauces, try using fat-free yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise.
- Try sliced or slivered almonds as a delicious, crunchy topping in place of fried onion rings.
- Choose reduced-fat or fat-free cheeses for salads and casseroles
What’s for dinner?
If counted on to cook a holiday dinner for several guests, or even if asked to bring something to a gathering, the USDA has a few suggestions to help add something healthy to the meal.
- Baked Acorn Squash with Apples. Apples and acorn squash are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C. Serve this apple-stuffed squash with protein foods and whole grains.
- Asparagus Parmesan. This historical USDA recipe from 1969 is still a hit today. Bake this Asparagus Parmesan in the oven while your other holiday dishes are prepared.
- Cranberry Apple Farro Stuffing. Whether you are cooking gluten-free or simply looking to try something new, this stuffing is packed with flavor from vegetables and fruit.