Nutritious alternatives to your favourite (unhealthy) Christmas treats

'Tis the season for calories - and we have the scrumptious alternatives to prevent your sweet tooth scale from sky rocketing.

Appetizers

Let’s start with appetizers. Puffed pastries are a popular go-to at this time of the year, but store bought pastries they can have trans fats, which aren’t good for us, plus they’re often fried, and we dip them into a sauce, so they end up being high in calories.

You can find some great store bought options that have cleaner labels. But we still want to be mindful about what we’re eating. To give you an idea, one of these puffed pasties, with the sauce, has 130 calories. But who eats just one? I can easily eat 6 or 7 of these over the course of a party, which would equal to 910 calories, which is half of our daily-recommended caloric intake. If you want a healthier option, you can make them yourself, I made these and they were a hit in my house, but they’re still made with lots of butter.

To put things into perspective, 2 of these puffed pastries, have almost the same amount of calories and fat as one of these cupcakes (290 calories and 16 grams of fat).

Sliders are also popular. They’re small, so you can have a taste of a burger if you don’t want to eat a whole one. But keep this in mind, two sliders roughly equal one hamburger, and that’s just the meat. Add the condiments and you could be eating more calories than just that one hamburger so it’s something to be mindful of.

Fruit and veggie platters are always a great option since they’re healthy and help to fill people up. You can serve the usual favourites like carrots, peppers and celery, or try different veggies like rutabaga and green cauliflower. Serve them with healthy dips like eggplant (I made this), hummus, guac, and salsa.

Alcohol

Festive drinks can have a lot of sugar and calories, so you’re better off sticking to hard alcohol like gin, tequila and vawdka as they contain less carbs or sugar. I do want to mention that they can still lead to weight gain, so be if that’s something you’re concerned. (drinking slows down the burning of fat, which leads to weight gain).

A friend of mine recently introduced me to brand of vawdka called Zirkova. And it comes in 2 options: Zirkova One and Zirkova Together. Zirkova One is made for sipping (great for drinking on its own, or to use in martini’s), and a Zirkova Together is made specifically for cocktails as it enhances the flavour of the mixers. Here try Zirkova One first…now try Zirkova Together. I made you a low low-sugar, low-carb vodka mojito.

Side Dishes

Potatoes are a go-to favourite during the holidays. So to kick-it up a notch, swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes contain fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals like B, C and iron, and they’re loaded with beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in our body.

I made these mashed potatoes using purple sweet potatoes and regular sweet potatoes—I made a mash. Purple sweet potatoes contain anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and have anti-aging benefits.

I baked them at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until they were soft and added butter (I used a vegan butter but you can use whatever you want), salt, and drizzled a little bit of olive oil as it helps us absorb the beta-carotene better .

Cranberry Sauce

Canned cranberry sauce can have high-fructose corn syrup, which can lead to obesity and heart disease.

Cranberry sauce is one of the easiest things to make and it only takes about 15 minutes. All you need are fresh cranberries, orange juice, and a sweetener. Mix 1 cup of sweetener, I like xylitol or erythritol, with one cup of orange juice, and add fresh or dried cranberries. Cook them until the cranberries pop—about 10 minutes. Transfer it to a bowl. It will thicken as it cools down.

Plant-Based Options

Holidays are notorious for serving meat-based dishes, like turkey, roast beef and brisket but consumers are now looking for more plant-based options.

These are some great options made from legumes, like falafel balls, lentil stew, and veggies bowls. That way people can reduce their intake of animal protein, you can have options for everyone.

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