The holidays are upon us and you may be wondering how you’re going to make it through the season without breaking your diet and all your good intentions. There are many tempting pleasures that you have enjoyed throughout the years, but this year you’ve decided you want to do what is right for your health and waistline.
The good news is you can do just that and still enjoy the holidays. With a little planning, a little willpower and the recipes we share with you here, you’re sure to enjoy a guilt-free feast!
White meat is healthier than the dark portions of the bird; therefore, serve a turkey breast if possible. Cook with the skin on to retain as much moisture in the meat as possible, then remove prior to slicing and serving. If you want to do something a little fancier, try Turkey & Stuffing for Two, a beautiful presentation of the two main ingredients of most holiday feasts. Or, you can choose to create your own Smoked Turkey Breast, made luscious through the brining process and irresistible through smoking.
Stuffing is nothing more than bread, which translates into carbs, and lots of them. Rachel Ray offers a great alternative with her Breadless Butternut Stuffing. You can also try this recipe, Breadless Stuffing, which uses garbanzo beans or Breadless Cauliflower and Mushroom Stuffing. All are great alternatives to one of the traditional stuffings often served.
Since gravy is made with turkey drippings, it is often one of the biggest calorie culprits found on the dinner table. To make a healthier guilt-free gravy, use vegetable oil instead as a base for the gravy which is both cholesterol-free and lower in saturated fat.
If you want to use the turkey drippings to add flavor, pour the finished gravy into a gravy separator and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Allow the fat in the gravy to rise to the top where you can skim it off. A richer flavor can also be imparted using a low-fat broth instead.
Sides are the bulk of most people’s meal. Below are a few recipes that you can use to create a memorable feast. Some are even star-studded, being a favorite of some of your favorite celebrities or chefs. Pick one or two if you are sharing your meal with a few others. Choose more if you will have a large group of family and friends sharing your table this year.
Sweet potatoes are an important part of many holiday feasts. Too often, they are covered with lots of sugar and marshmallows. If you want to include them in your meal, you can try mashing them up like you would regular mashed potatoes or by making Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ricotta Cheese.
Since cauliflower makes a great potato substitute, you can come close to enjoying the flavor of traditional mashed potatoes while avoiding all the starch and carbs with Valerie Bertinelli’s Herbed Mashed Cauliflower.
With the main ingredient being quinoa, Quinoa with Garlic, Pine Nuts and Raisins is a flavorful, protein-packed side dish that is delicious, gluten-free and vegan.
Enjoy a healthy version of green bean casserole with American chef Graham Elliot’s Healthy Green Bean Casserole which uses roasted mushrooms and crisped shallots to impart a truly rich flavor; so much so, you won’t even miss the cream.
Spicy Swiss Chard & Beans makes a colorful and spicy addition to any feast.
With its flavorful dressing, your guests are sure to enjoy this healthy and protein-rich salad – Chickpea and Spinach Salad with Cumin Dressing and Yogurt Sauce.
You can enjoy another one of American chef Graham Elliot’s recipes, Healthy Mashed Potato Fake Out, made with cannellini beans in place of potatoes.
Enjoy a guilt-free side that tastes much like lasagna, but is gluten-free, with another Rachel Ray favorite – Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Ricotta. It will also make a great main dish for a meatless meal when served as a leftover.
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without dessert, now would it?
Dessert is almost as bad as the gravy when it comes to being a calorie culprit. There are 529 calories in a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. That’s literally one-half to one-third of most people’s calorie budget for the day. If your holiday meal is not complete without the pumpkin pie, you can omit the whipped cream to save almost 200 calories.
Even better, check out these Four Guilt-Free Thanksgiving Desserts which includes a Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie or these crust-less Pumpkin Pie Squares. They both allow you to savor the flavor of pumpkin and know you are doing so guilt-free!
Speaking of guilt-free holidays … Aspire at Carriage Hill offers the perfect recipe – where the sweetest ingredients are the love and friendship shared by those in our community. That’s the ultimate in calorie-free pleasure. Contact us to schedule your own individual tour and find out how you can become a part of our family. We’ll be happy to share our recipe for happily ever after with you.
And, from our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful holiday season.