Healthy Holiday Classics: Side Dishes

The fall/winter holidays bring with them cooler temperatures and also some of our favorite family feast recipes. But we all know that extra cheesy mac & cheese, marshmallow covered sweet potato casserole, and decadent desserts can have a big impact on our waistlines come January. But what is a way you can prevent this from happening besides staying away from all of your holiday favorites? Try a few recipes that pack on the flavor but leave the fat and calories far from your mouth (and waistline).\r\n\r\nIt’s not the turkey or ham’s fault that the meal you’re about to enjoy is overloaded with fat calories. It’s what’s inside the bird, nestled next to it on your plate and of course, what comes after the main meal. Sides (and of course, dessert) are the main factor that causes weight gain from holiday meals. Sides are everyone’s favorite part – and why wouldn’t they be, with all that butter, salt, sugar and grease making up the bulk of each dish? However, they can be created without all of that – and with plenty of flavor, too. Watch your portions – or don’t, with these recipes – and get ready for a Thanksgiving that won’t pack on the pounds. Below are three ideas for healthy alternatives to your favorite sides.\r\n

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chili Powder

\r\nChili powder is known to reduce fat cell growth, and cinnamon keeps up your blood sugar. Plus, these mashed sweet potatoes have a delightful zing to them, so no need to fear that your taste buds – and kids – will complain.\r\n

What You Need:

\r\n4 sweet potatoes\r\n\r\n2 tsp orange zest\r\n\r\n1/2 cup fresh orange juice\r\n\r\n2 tsp ground cinnamon\r\n\r\n2 Tbsp brown sugar\r\n\r\n1 tsp chili powder\r\n

Directions

\r\nBake sweet potatoes at 425°F until soft, about an hour and ten minutes. Remove from oven and cool a little. Whisk orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon, chili powder, brown sugar and a ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Put sweet potatoes (out of skins or in) in a large mixing bowl. Pour with orange juice mixture and mash.\r\n

Cranberry Relish with Ginger

\r\nInstead of standard cranberry sauce, which contains a lot of sugar, raspberries are added for sweetness and ginger gives a burst of healthy, energetic flavor to a relish that can be enjoyed over turkey, toast or day-after dishes.\r\n

What You Need

\r\n1 12-oz bag often fresh cranberries\r\n\r\n1/2 cup sugar\r\n\r\n1/2 cup crystallized ginger, minced\r\n\r\n3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen, but not thawed completely (not thawed)\r\n

Directions

\r\nChop cranberries in a food processor. Put in a bowl and stir in sugar and ginger, then slowly add raspberries. Keep some of them whole, if possible. Cover and keep in refrigerator for 3 or more hours before serving.\r\n

Stuffing Muffins

\r\nThere are a few ways to make traditional stuffing healthier  – use whole wheat bread, olive oil and add nutrient rich ingredients such as apples or pears – but it’s true that one of the best things about stuffing is that rich, fatty flavor so many of us know and love. However, this is where portion control comes in, and why these muffins prove to be an awesome, flavorful and easy idea to adopt this holiday.\r\n

What You Need:

\r\nOlive oil\r\n\r\n4 tbs unsalted butter\r\n\r\n2 red onions, chopped\r\n\r\n3 sliced celery stalks\r\n\r\n1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp dried thyme\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage\r\n\r\n1 8 oz package mushrooms, chopped\r\n\r\n1 cup low-sodium chicken stock\r\n\r\n1 12-14 oz package stuffing, cubed (whole wheat)\r\n\r\n1 cup low-fat buttermilk\r\n\r\n2 eggs\r\n\r\n1/2 tsp ground black pepper\r\n

Directions

\r\nCoat a 12-cup muffin tin in a little olive oil. Melt butter in a 4-quart pot; stir in onion, celery, rosemary, sage, thyme and pepper. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Pour in mushrooms and cook over medium heat until mushrooms are soft and there is no liquid. Keep stirring. Add broth and let simmer.\r\n\r\nPreheat oven to 425°. Remove pot from heat; add the rest of the ingredients. Cover for five minutes. Spoon stuffing mixture into the muffin tin; bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes in oven and then remove.\r\n\r\nWe chose easy recipes because when you want to change your holiday habits, you shouldn’t have to feel more stressed than you already do. It is simple to make your holiday favorites much healthier, but the first step is being willing to try new things. Go ahead, make this a healthy holiday. We’ll show you how.\r\n

Stay tuned for Healthier Holiday Classics, Part III: Desserts