By Elizabeth Blessing
Co-founder, MSN and Chief Nutritionist of Green BEAN Delivery
The holiday season arrives with chilly temperatures, time spent with family and friends and bountiful feasts. From dips to drinks to desserts, there are temptations all around, and it can be difficult to make healthy choices. By including some of these nutritional tips into your recipes and routine this season, your dishes will be both good for you and delicious, making them a hit at any celebration!
1. Go for Pasture-Raised Poultry
If you’ll be serving turkey, chicken or duck for your holiday meal, ensure that it is naturally-raised. Pasture-raised poultry is not only better for you, the bird and the environment, but it provides superior flavor and texture. You can also prepare homemade bone broth from the leftover bones of your holiday feast. Bone broth is an excellent winter tonic to help you battle through the cold and flu season.
2. Stock Up on Local, Seasonal Produce
There’s a reason why so many holiday recipes feature pumpkin, squash, cranberries and yams—these fruits and vegetables are all in season during the fall months. Support local farmers and buy fresh, organic or sustainable produce. Try using fresh pumpkin in your desserts, or make a homemade cranberry sauce. Buying fresh is healthier than buying canned, and by getting the produce during its peak season, the difference in taste will wow your guests!
*Editor's Note: Can't stand the cold? The Worthington Farmers' Market is now indoor for the season! Shop for your farm-fresh produce and meat inside The Shops at Worthington every Saturday from 9am until noon.
3. Use High Quality Fats
Stick to the traditional fats such as animal fats, butter, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil when cooking, and strictly avoid partially and fully hydrogenated fats (trans fats). Animal fats and coconut oil are excellent for high heat. Grass-fed butter, coconut oil and lard are healthy substitutions for shortening in baked products. Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and peanut oil are all monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats that can be used to boost the nutrient profile of your meal.
4. Cut Back on Sugar
It’s nearly impossible to avoid the pumpkin pies, red velvet cakes and cookies during the holiday season. Take some steps to cut back on sugar without sacrificing the sweet. Focus on using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup and avoid sweets made with high fructose corn syrup. Try cutting the sugar in half in a recipe. You will be surprised that it is still sweet with only half the amount. Making sweets from scratch instead of buying from the store will cut down on the amount you have around the house. The less sweets, the less chance for indulgences.
5. Watch What You Drink
Many people don’t consider the health consequences of beverages, especially when celebrating with friends and family. Soda and alcohol are high in empty calories and sugar, while seasonal drinks like eggnog contain high levels of saturated fat. Make water your number one choice, aiming for 4-8 cups per day. To make your H2O a little more fun, drink sparkling water with a squeeze of lime, lemon or orange. Also try herbal teas with warming spices such as, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and nutmeg.