It’s that time of year again! It’s the season for enticing sweet treats, holiday parties, and an attempt to keep our waistlines in check.
A single holiday party with cocktails, appetizers, dinner, and dessert could easily wipe out a week’s worth of workouts. Making a few simple swaps this holiday season will not only save calories, but also ensure peace of mind. Here are few indulgences to lose and others to choose so you can celebrate with less guilt.
Lose it: Pomegranate martini
264 calories in a 4 oz. serving
Choose it: Red wine
125 calories in a 5 oz. serving
Many people often underestimate the amount of calories that are in a single alcoholic beverage. Cocktails mixed with high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden juices and artificial sweeteners pack a punch. Opt for red or white wine, which have an average of 125 calories per 5 oz. glass or even a light beer offering about 100 calories per 12 oz. serving. Remember, beverage calories add up fast so keep it to just 1-2 servings and always drink responsibly.
Lose it: Eggnog with rum
370 calories in 1 cup
Choose it: Spiced apple cider with rum
150 calories in 1 cup
Eggnog: cream, eggs, milk, sugar, liquor. It’s the caloric equivalent of a triple-thick milkshake. When you’re craving a warm holiday drink opt for the apple cider, even with the added rum.
Lose it: Spinach dip
140 calories in 2 tbsp
Choose it: Hummus dip
54 calories in 2 tbsp
Even if you’re dipping celery sticks, you’re better off choosing the hummus over the spinach dip. Hummus made with high-protein chickpeas will satisfy your appetite and taste buds with fewer calories.
Lose it: Miniature spinach and cheese quiche
60 calories each
Choose it: Shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce
20 calories each
Skip the overly-processed ready-to-bake quiches. Choose a simple high-protein snack instead. Steamed shrimp are high in protein and low in calories, plus they are an excellent source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize destructive free radicals.
Lose it: Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows
250-450 calories per serving
Choose it: Vanilla n’ coconut mashed sweet potatoes
73 calories per serving
In recent studies, sweet potatoes have shown to be useful in helping to control blood sugar levels and promoting satiety, which can promote weight loss; that is if they aren’t paired with sugar, butter, and marshmallows like the festive holiday side dish. Lighten up with the sweet and simple recipe here.
Vanilla n’ Coconut Mashed Sweet Potatoes
(Makes 4 ½-cup servings)
2 sweet potatoes (about 8 oz. each)
¼ cup light unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp honey
1. Wash potatoes well. Either peel the potatoes or chose to leave the skin on. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 45-60 minutes.
2. Add potatoes to saucepan. Heat over low to medium heat. Mash.
3. Add light coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and honey. Stir. Continue to heat over low to medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes stirring frequently.
73 calories, 1g protein, 16g carbs, 0.5g fat
Lose it: Dark meat turkey breast
186 calories, 7 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 28 g protein, in a 3.5 oz. serving
Choose it: White meat turkey breast
156 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 28 g protein,
in a 3.5 oz serving
Get all of the protein without the added fat by opting for white meat over dark. Ditching the skin cuts 5 g of fat per serving. Filling a quarter of your plate with a complete protein source like turkey and half your plate with fibrous vegetables can fill you up, preventing a second helping of the mashed potatoes and gravy.
Lose it: Homemade Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie
140 calories each
Choose it: Chocolate-covered strawberry
60 calories each
It’s hard to resist a homemade chocolate chip cookie, and it can be even more difficult to stop at just one. Skipping the cookie and choosing fruit for dessert doesn’t sound like much of an indulgence, but when a fresh strawberry is dipped in chocolate it doesn’t take much coaxing. Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants helping you power through the busy holiday season.
Lose it: Pineapple upside down cake
Choose it: Angel food cake
When you pair a high-glycemic fruit like pineapple with a refined-sugar-loaded cake and even more added sugar on top it’s never pretty in numbers. Lighten up with angel food cake. Sure, it can be boring when it’s plain, but the quick and easy recipe below can help bring on some holiday cheer.
Angel’s Delight Coconut Cake
(Makes 1 serving)
1 slice of angel food cake (1/12 of a 12 oz. cake)
½ cup of sliced strawberries
½ cup of coconut milk ice cream- vanilla bean, no sugar added
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
1. Top cake with ice cream and sliced strawberries.
2. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
266 calories, 3g protein, 49g carbs, 12g fat
It’s not always easy to eat healthy and stay on track with fitness and physique goals during the holiday season, but by sticking with the least processed, most nutritious foods available you’ll beat the seasonal weight gain and gain vitality and energy instead.
Originally published in January 2013