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Meal planning for healthy holiday celebrations

Published: November 20, 2014

The comforting foods of our traditional recipes are often the culprits to our seasonal weight gain. Make simple modifications while using traditional foods in a different way and take advantage of seasonal holiday favorites that are delicious and loaded with nutritional value.

PUMPKIN – A great source of beta-carotene and iron. Canned pumpkin contains 15 times more beta-carotene than fresh pumpkin!    

Modification: Lighten up your pumpkin pie. Use egg substitute and evaporated skim milk instead of whole eggs and cream. Replace the traditional pastry crust with crushed ginger snap cookies or low-fat graham crackers instead.

CRANBERRIES – Contain two powerful flavonoids, quercetin and myricetin, that have been shown to prevent damage to blood vessel linings.

Modification: Make your own cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries. Whatever the recipe calls for in sugar, use half that amount. You'll be surprised at how delicious the sauce still tastes.

TURKEY – Provides significant sources of B-vitamins, selenium and zinc - nutrients essential for optimal nerve and immune function. Choose white turkey breast for its lower fat content. Have a smaller portion of the darker meat for its added iron content. Skip the skin altogether!

Modification: Buy a fresh, unroasted turkey. (Pre-basted or pre-prepared turkeys are injected with an oil and salty broth mixture and often loaded with extra fat. Baste the turkey yourself with a low-sodium broth, sherry, or white wine instead of butter to further reduce the fat content.

SWEET POTATOES – A 4oz sweet potato contains a mere 143 calories and provides over 100% of our daily needs for beta-carotene, more than a quarter of our daily needs for vitamins C and E, and are an excellent source of iron.

Modification: Add sweet potatoes to lean ground turkey chili or to your favorite potato salad recipe; shred it raw into hamburger, meatloaf and meatball mixtures; toss chunks of it into salads

Check out more holiday meal planning solutions:

Simple holiday snack swaps: Whether you're hosting or attending a holiday gathering, try these healthy party snack swaps. Great Healthy Holiday Food Ideas

Reducing fat from your holiday meal: Make simple changes by cutting fat from your traditional holiday diet. Strategies to Fight Holiday Weight Gain

Modifying your recipes for better health: Reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and obesity by modifying more than just your holiday recipes. Modifying Recipes for Better Health

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