Ok, it just hit me that the holidays are truly upon us. The first (and most challenging perhaps?) of which is Thanksgiving. So in the spirit of weight and health maintenance, I wanted to share a few meal ideas to inspire you (Note the focus on non-starchy veggies as delicious low-cal fillers!):
Hollow-out the center of your favorite veggies (i.e. cucumber) and spread on a platter with other mixed veggies (i.e. celery, carrots, bell peppers). In a small bowl, combine equal parts fat-free (0%) Greek yogurt and light Blue cheese or Ranch dressing. Fill hollowed veggies with this dip. Place the rest in a small bowl and serve immediately.
Roasted Parmesan & Olive Oil Veggies
Wash and cut your favorite of these veggies: Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, or broccolini spears. Preheat your oven to 375F. Spread on baking sheet, spray lightly with oil cooking spray and top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake until browned and cooked through, ~10 minutes. Optional: sprinkle lightly with red pepper flakes, paprika, garlic or salt.
Sweet Yam Mash
Bake yams in the oven until soft through the center. Cut in half and spoon out inside of potatoes into a small bowl. Mix with a splash of orange juice, nutmeg, and ginger. Spread on small baking pan, and top with chopped pecans and brown sugar. Bake until pecans caramelized.
Whole-Grain Veggie-Stuffed Stuffing
Swap your favorite stuffing recipe bread for a whole-grain variety and double the veggie content. This will increase the fiber, vitamins/minerals content and decrease the cals per serving! Note: you may need to increase the liquid content with an increase of veggies to avoid dryness.
In a richly-colored bowl, spread a bag of spinach with mixed baby greens, top with any of the following for a beautiful side dish:
– Raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, or pomegranate seeds
– Low-fat feta, blue, goat or brie cheese crumbles
– Pecans, walnuts, almond slivers or hazelnuts
– Oil and vinegar or a light vinaigrette
Savory Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Swap potatoes for cauliflower puree and swap butter for light sour cream, low-fat Greek yogurt or light butter spread to cut significant calories from the traditional mashed potato dish!
Roast Turkey Roll-Ups
On a light, whole grain, high-fiber tortilla or wrap, fill with leftover roast turkey, greens and low-fat strawberry cream cheese spread. Great for a lighter day-after-Thanksgiving snack or lunch!
Avoid extra calories from alcohol or high-fat egg nog by serving a low-cal spritzer. Combine one part pomegranate juice with 3 parts citrus-flavored sparkling water. Serve over ice with optional pomegranate seeds and orange slices for a great looking & tasting holiday beverage!
Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Nix extra calories from desert without even noticing by baking your pumpkin pie without the crust. Serve in individual ramekins topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dallop of light whipped topping.
Fruit makes another tasty, sweet but lighter dessert alternative for the holidays. Take your favorite fruit like pear, apple or peach and wash then cut into bite-size pieces. Spread these on a baking sheet and top with a sprinkle of brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans or walnuts. Bake on 375F until nuts browned and caramelized.
Adjusting your traditional holiday favorites to be low-fat, low-calorie and high-fiber is a great strategy to avoid extra holiday pounds, while still enjoying the flavors of the season! Enjoy.
Erika works with clients in both the 20/20 LifeStyles program and general members. She enjoys helping her clients understand how healthier eating relates to a more balanced lifestyle. She specializes in a realistic and sustainable approach to meal plan changes. Her interests include emotional eating, sports nutrition and metabolic disorders among others. Erika has worked in long-term care, clinical, food service, and community settings.