Health Advocate Blog

Ask a Health Advocate: How can I make my favorite Christmas dishes healthier?

Who says you have to give up the pleasure of a delicious meal in order to stay healthy during the holidays? Don’t subscribe to that myth. You can have the best of both worlds! Below are some fun and simple ingredient substitution ideas that can give you mouthwatering flavor without adding to your waistline.

Trade mashed potatoes for cauliflower mashers: Just boil cauliflower the way you would boil potatoes, and mash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Use chicken broth instead of extra butter or oil: Whether you are making vegetables, a meat dish, or a starchy side dish, using broth is a great way to keep the flavor intact without adding saturated fat.

Instead of creamy casseroles, roast vegetables: Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness, and it’s a great way to add some healthy fiber and nutrients to a holiday meal.

Instead of more salt, try lemon juice or spices and herbs: It may sound odd, but citrus makes the flavors in a dish pop! So before you grab the salt, see if lemon juice might work well with the dish. Lemon not a good idea for your dish? No problem! Play with other spices and herbs. When your dish is bursting with flavor, no one will need to reach for the salt shaker.

For appetizers, put out healthy snacks instead of chips and dip: Bring a vegetable tray and pair it with hummus. Make deviled eggs (it’s a little decadent, but more nutritious than fried foods and sugary treats). Cut up apple slices and sprinkle them with lemon juice and cinnamon. Or put out a tray of nuts for those who want something more savory.

Put a healthy spin on dessert: Serve any dessert with a helping of fruit. The extra fiber helps you feel more satisfied, and it also looks nice on a plate. Or try roasting some nuts and adding a touch of sweetness. Soak raw nuts overnight, and then strain them and mix them up with cinnamon and honey. Roast in the oven until dry and warm, and serve alongside your dessert dish. This can be a delicious topping or a sweet treat all its own.

Instead of coffee, make decaffeinated herbal tea to have at the end of the meal: Peppermint, pumpkin spice, ginger….there’s even chocolate-flavored tea available! Tea aids in digestion and helps people feel full at the end of an evening. Also, they’ll probably sleep better that night!

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching program, reach out to your Wellness Coach for healthy holiday tips and recipes. And from all of us at Health Advocate, we hope you have a happy, healthy holiday!

Have a question for a Health Advocate? Email, and your question may be the topic of an upcoming “Ask a Health Advocate” column!

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