After the year we've had, no one would blame you if you completely overindulged during the holidays this year. And honestly, it's the perfect excuse to do so. Cookies, cakes, pies, heavy creams, and extra rich food is everything we look forward to at such a joyous time of the year.
However, and we hate to be the bearers of bad news, your heart probably won't be celebrating with you. But here's the good news: you can still indulge in those holiday feasts with just a few small tweaks.
Let them eat cake
The words "healthy" and "cake" definitely don't go together, so let's not think of it the same way you think of diet soda... with aspartame and other additives that leave you with a terrible aftertaste. Because excess sugar can lead to hypertension and increase the chances of a heart attack (which many sugar alternatives can also cause), your best bet is to cut the amount of sugar a recipe requires. Often, you make this change without any effect to the consistency of the dessert. Another great option is to look up recipes that use fruit instead of sugar or ways to substitute fruit (apple, banana, or pumpkin puree). All you'd need to do is a quick web search for substitute ratios.
With a grain of salt
Often, we associate flavor with salt. Without it, foods tend to be bland or dry. Many of the foods we see on a holiday spread (ham, olives, salad dressings, condiments, canned veggies, cheeses, crackers and chips, and salted nuts) are loaded with sodium. Where you can, choose to bake or cook foods from scratch, rather than buying pre-seasoned, and go heavy on the herbs and spices instead. For vegetables, choose fresh or frozen, rather than canned. For foods that typically come canned, opt for items with reduced sodium.
Potatoes and rolls and pasta -- oh my! Let's be honest, the starchy foods are the guests of honor at every holiday meal. It's hard to imagine a Thanksgiving feast without grandma's famous mac n' cheese or creamy, whipped mashed potatoes, but alas. Grab a tiny scoop of each and load the rest of your plate with fresh or sauteed broccoli, carrots, and asparagus instead. Your heart will thank you.
I'll drink to that
Now this, friends, is the most challenging sacrifice of all. It's hard to imagine a holiday party that'll lift your spirits… without the spirits. Spiked eggnog, sangria, champagne, mulled wine, the list goes on. The problem is, each of those beverages turn straight to sugar once they're broken down in your digestive system (refer back to our first subpoint for the effects of too much sugar). So we say, enjoy an alcohol drink or two per day, and keep the party going with a mocktail that's mostly seltzer water blended with your favorite fruit puree.
The holidays don't have to be a drag just because you want to be heart conscious. In fact, we say, make the change for the whole family, so you don't feel alone in your healthy feast. Make a few of those traditional recipes the same as you do every year, but enjoy a little less and provide everyone with a paper plate and a sheet of foil to take home those tempting leftovers.