During the holidays, we hear plenty about what we shouldn’t eat and how to avoid the slow creep of weight gain. But that all gets so tiresome after awhile! It’s easy to overlook the healthy foods that are abundant during this festive season. You just might be surprised at how many traditional favorites are actually good for you (not counting the extra fat and sugar we often add).
Skinless turkey breast is low in fat and high in protein: 3 ounces provides 20 grams of protein and hardly any fat — all in only 100 calories! Not only that, but you get 25% of the recommended daily value for both niacin and vitamin B6. These important B vitamins boost your energy levels and help you fight illness.
Turkey is probably the best choice of meats you can serve to your guests during the holidays, in terms of being low-fat and low in calories. So gobble up and enjoy!
Fans of low-carb diets may not like this, but potatoes are actually good for you – in moderation. They have plenty of vitamin C, iron, potassium and fiber, as well as B vitamins. When you boil them some of the vitamin C does leach into the water. To hold onto more of this immunity-boosting vitamin, use some of the water you boiled the potatoes in when mashing them instead of a higher-fat cream or milk.
Sweet potatoes contain plenty of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant not only thought to protect your eyes, but also reduce cancer risk and slow aging. Only four ounces of this colorful tuber gives you half of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C, and plenty of fiber. Just go light on the brown sugar, butter and Grandma’s marshmallow topping when making and enjoying your favorite sweet potato dish.
Cranberries are a traditional favorite at most holiday tables, and they’re good for you, too! They contain ellagic acid, a compound believed to help fend off cancer. These festive red berries also help to prevent urinary tract infections. Add oranges to your favorite cranberry relish and you get a nice dose of vitamin C, too!
What holiday table would be complete without pumpkins in some form or another? Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A (good for your peepers); giving you a whopping 3½ times the recommended daily amount, plus plenty of fiber, too. You can use pureed pumpkin to replace the fat or oils in baked goods for a delicious, moist texture.
“Now Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding…”
An excellent source of dietary fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants, figs make tasty snacks by themselves or combined with cheese. They’re also a good source of bone-building calcium and potassium, a mineral believed to help control blood pressure.
Speaking of figs, this Heavenly Honey-Drizzled Figs is a festive holiday treat.
“Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire…”
Don’t forget the chestnuts this holiday season! They are the only low-fat nut with 1 gram of fat (the heart-healthy type, mind you) and only 70 calories per dried or roasted ounce. So if you haven’t tried roasted chestnuts, what are you waiting for? They’re delicious and good for you!
Don’t Be a Grinch – Savor Your Faves!
The holidays only come around once a year, so there’s no point in being a Grinch about the foods you eat. Enjoy seasonal treats with these smart tips:
- All the foods you enjoy can fit into a healthy eating plan – in moderation. Savor your favorite treats, just watch your portion sizes, and maintain a good balance between high- and low-fat choices.
- Limit drinks that pack in a lot of calories – like egg nog. Alcoholic beverages have plenty of empty calories, so choose wisely. And drink plenty of water to avoid that nasty, post-party headache the next morning.
- Walk off that sluggish feeling you get after enjoying a big meal. Bring a family member, friend or pet with you.
American Dietetic Association. n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.