The holiday season is the perfect time to prepare and host dinners for your loved ones. But if you think preparing a holiday dinner without breaking the calorie bank is mission impossible, think again. All you need is careful planning and moderation, as well as slightly modifying some ingredients in your recipes.
One of my favorite strategies that allows me to eat what I want and keep the calories under control is moderation. Many holiday dishes are loaded with fat and calories—one good reason to watch those extra-large portions. However, if you attempt to stay away from your favorite foods altogether, it might only lead to cravings and overeating. To me, eating healthy is balancing food groups and never restricting yourself. Life is too short and food is too delicious!
If you love preparing and trying new recipes, like me, these are some easy ideas to reduce the calories without sacrificing the taste:
- Select meats wisely: Choose lean meats as much as possible. For instance, pork loin and tenderloin are delicious cuts with less fat. Also, don’t forget to trim any visible fat from the portion in your plate. At the supermarket, pick “select grades” as they are the leanest.
- Go for grains: Stuffing and casseroles can be a big source of fat. Instead, prepare quinoa, wild rice, brown rice or barley. For extra gusto, add chopped almonds, carrots and strawberries to your quinoa side dish; cook wild rice with onions, green and red peppers; or prepare a salad with barley, chopped nuts, apples and celery. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends to make half of your starches whole grains[i]; with small swaps, you can achieve it.
- Paint your plate with color: Replace one of your starch dishes with roasted vegetables, which will boost the flavor and nutrients content, and add color to your meal. Also, they are so easy to prepare! All you need to do is chop pumpkin, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts and/or cauliflower; add salt and a little olive oil; and place them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Roasted veggies will become your family’s favorite side dish.
- Make stress-free changes: Replace bread rolls, tortillas and pasta with whole grain versions. Instead of a 12 ounce can of drink, choose the mini can presentation of your favorite soda with just 90 calories.
By placing delightful ingredients and flavors on top of your list, your house will become the place that friends and family will love to visit the most.
Ximena Jiménez, MS, RD, LD – Guest Contributor
About Ximena Jimenez
Ximena Jimenez is a licensed and registered dietitian. She is currently a National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Past Legislative Chairperson of the Miami Dietetic Association and Florida Dietetic Association Public Relations Team member. Ximena holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, and a Master’s Degree in Communications from Florida International University. She is a consultant for the Coca-Cola Company and provides practical nutrition information on behalf of the Company.