The holidays are a time for celebrating friends and family - and there's no better way to appreciate life than to feast. Chances are that you gather for hearty meals multiple times throughout November and December, and those calories can stick with you. To stay trim as you trim the turkey, here are some methods to make your holiday meals healthier.
Carve the ham
While turkey is a much healthier alternative, many families insist on serving ham at Christmas. Ham and its glaze are typically riddled with sodium and sugar, sending you well over your daily allowance in a single serving. FoodNetwork.com recommends reducing the amount of sugar on your ham glaze by using fresh cooked fruits like apples, cranberries, peaches or oranges. To reduce the salt, buy a ham that isn't pre-cured and use a low-sodium broth to cook it yourself.
Pour on the gravy
When holiday dinners are served, nearly every plate gets covered in gravy, but this fat-heavy sauce is riddled with calories and sodium. SFGate.com suggests making your own gravy from scratch by using low-carb thickeners, fat-free milk instead of cream, dried spices instead of sodium and withholding the fatty meat drippings.
Pucker up for cranberry sauce
The only way to get some people to eat cranberry sauce is to thicken it with so much sugar that it becomes a dessert. Even in low amounts, this syrupy concoction is unhealthy, so make your own cranberry sauce without any sugar. Wellness Mama.com suggests substituting the sugar with pineapple or oranges, sugarless apple sauce and honey to sweeten it instead.
Make room for stuffing
Home cooks like to flavor their stuffing by tossing in handfuls of unhealthy sauces and seasonings to keep the dish from tasting dry, which can make stuffing a hotbed of unhealthiness. HuffingtonPost.com suggests multiple ways you can lighten stuffing, such as making it vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan or low-fat.
Pass the fruit cake
Desserts are a big part of holiday meals, and while most desserts are unhealthy enough that they should be avoided at all costs, fruit cake is actually one dish that can be made decently healthy. HealthyChefCreations.com has a great recipe for Christmas bread that uses almond meal instead of flour, plus a high ratio of dried fruit. Use cinnamon, orange and vanilla to flavor your cake instead of sugar.
Decorate the gingerbread men
You can't celebrate Christmas without baking and decorating gingerbread cookies, but before you know it, one bite can become a whole handful. Skip the sugary icing and sprinkles; instead, follow MyNewRoots.org's guide to making healthy gingerbread cookies by using unsulfured blackstrap molasses, coconut sugar and sugarless applesauce to sweeten.
With a little extra effort and creativity, you can turn your holiday meals into tastier, healthier dishes your whole family will love. Plus, eating better during the holidays will save you from having to make that New Year's resolution to lose weight which you'll inevitably give up on by February.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.