By Megan McCarthy
The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes a wave of festive feasts and cherished family traditions. While these traditions often revolve around indulgent dishes, there’s no reason why you can’t infuse a little nutrient-rich flair into your favorite recipes. Check out some of these easy and flavorful ingredient swaps that’ll help nourish your loved ones while preserving those time-honored dishes everyone loves to gather around.
A longtime holiday staple, trade in your traditional mashed potatoes recipe for one with a cauliflower twist. If you swap out half or all the potatoes for steamed cauliflower when making your dish, you’ll still get that creamy texture and familiar taste, but with fewer carbs and more vitamins.
Gravy can elevate just about any dish, but traditional gravy isn’t always a fit for all dietary restrictions. Instead of using pan drippings, opt for a mushroom or vegetable-based gravy thickened with garbanzo bean flour. This swap adds earthy depth to your gravy while keeping it gluten-free and vegetarian.
Stuffing is a holiday classic, and switching from white bread to a sprouted grain or a gluten-free bread is easy. These white bread alternatives offer more fiber and nutrients while still providing that comforting texture. Add in extra celery and herbs for a garden- fresh crunch.
Try making your own homemade cranberry sauce with apples and chia seeds instead of grabbing a canned version off the shelf this year. Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Add a little natural maple syrup to help the natural sweetness of cranberries shine through, reducing the need for excessive processed sugar.
Roasted vegetables round out any holiday feast. Boost the nutritional value of your meal by using a wide variety of veggies. Sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts are my favorite. Even roasted green beans for casserole swap will do. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh herbs for a delicious and simple side dish.
Fruit-focused desserts are an excellent substitute for traditional pie. Serve up a berry compote with a dollop of Greek yogurt or a fruit salad with a drizzle of honey, pomegranate arils and a sprinkle of pistachios. Poached pears and nutty apple crumbles are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Want to try something new? Experiment with the beloved Holiday Cranberry Apple Relish listed above.
By making these nutrient-rich swaps, you can nourish your family’s traditions and health. It’s all about finding that perfect balance between flavor and health, allowing you to savor the festivities and feel good throughout the holidays. So go ahead, add a little nutrient-rich flair to your festive favorites this year and watch your loved ones savor the season even more.
Holiday Cranberry Apple Relish
- 4-6 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- Water to cover (about 1 cup)
- 1⁄4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cups of fresh cranberries
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
In a saucepan, combine chopped apples, water, coconut sugar, maple syrup and a cinnamon stick. Bring apples to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add fresh cranberries to cooked apples and keep cooking until popped, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Chef Megan McCarthy: Healthy Eating 101
Megan McCarthy is a healthy lifestyle chef on a mission to teach others how to prepare delicious foods for everyday eating. Her creative culinary experience brings healthy foods to life while putting you at ease in the kitchen. McCarthy is the Edible Garden Chef at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and creates recipes focusing on new and creative ways to enjoy the fresh seasonal abundance. www.healthyeating101.com