While the holidays should be a time of joy and celebration with friends and family, for those in training, it is often tinged with dread. Aside from the added holiday stress and the disruption of your normal training routine, high-calorie foods wait at every twist and turn. With the right holiday recipes, however, you can have healthy holiday food choices that still keep the traditions you love around.
Sticking To The Plan
In addition to keeping up your self defense training, the best way to avoid packing on pounds over the holidays is to know your goals going into the season of festivities. Understanding not just your caloric intake limit, but the nutrient breakdown you need to maintain peak conditioning is vital. It’s easier to make smart choices about healthy holiday food when you understand whether or not you can justify eating that slice of pie.
Of course, the easiest way to make sure you’ll have the right food at family events, holiday parties, or big game blowouts is to bring your own healthy holiday food to share. If you bring lean protein, then you know there will be lean protein available. This not only helps you stay on track, it lets you share healthy eating with others. Healthy holidays together with friends and family sounds like a great tradition to start this year.
Traditional Fare With A Healthier Flare
While the internet abounds with healthy (and not-so-healthy) recipes, these holiday recipes are designed to give you a traditional feel with healthier results. As we look at these recipes, remember two things. First, all things in moderation, you can still eat too much of healthy holiday food, eliminating much of the benefits of your plan. Secondly, remember to allow yourself some leeway. It may seem contrary, but the point is not eliminate your festive favorites, but to give you a healthier alternative.
Moist Turkey Goodness With Less Fat
Want a turkey that is lower in fat, tender, juicy, and doesn’t require you to stay in the kitchen all day? Instead of a whole bird for the big day, choose a turkey breast. While there are boneless, skinless breasts available, opting for a bone-in breast and removing the skin yourself prior to cooking can give you a better bird with fewer preservatives.
After removing the skin, place the turkey in your slow cooker along with a half cup of water, a few peeled cloves of garlic, and either three fresh rosemary sprigs or a sprinkling of dried rosemary. Mix together a teaspoon each of dark brown sugar and pepper, along with one half-teaspoon of pink salt. Sprinkle this liberally onto the bird, then set your slow cooker to low. Let it cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 170℉, which will be in about 4-6 hours depending on the size of your turkey breast.
The result is a moist, flavorful protein that makes a great dinner one night — followed by several days of turkey wraps and salads.
No Stuff Stuffing
Stuffing is a perennial favorite, and not a healthy one. Traditional stuffing contains lots of white bread, salt, and butter, and that’s before it is stuffed in the bird to soak up fats. Dressing is a diet-sinker all by itself. This version is fast, easy, and will give you a similar flavor with less downside.
If your turkey came with giblets, feel free to mince and use them in this recipe. While these organ meats do add some fat, they are also nutrient dense, making the tradeoff worth it since we’re cutting fat elsewhere.
Brown the giblets in a non-stick skillet with a few cloves of minced garlic, a chopped onion, two chopped celery stalks, and some salt and pepper (if not using giblets, use a minimal amount of your preferred cooking oil). While that’s cooking, put two cups of rice in your rice steamer. Basmati is nutritious, but if you want a stick-together texture like bread stuffing, sushi rice works better. Add a half-teaspoon of ground thyme and one-and-a-half teaspoons of sage. Cook the rice according to your steamer directions (if you aren’t using giblets, you can add two tablespoons of chicken broth here).
Once the rice and meat mixture are both done, combine them in the cooker, stirring thoroughly, then let it set for at least fifteen minutes (no cheating) to allow the flavors to mix and mature. You end up with a lower fat, more flavor alternative to stuffing that you’ll look forward to every holiday season.
Two Holiday Favorites, One Easy Dish
Mashed potatoes and candied yams are holiday staples. They’re also usually about as far from healthy holiday food as you can get. One comes packed with butter, while the other is loaded with sugar, more sugar, and then topped with marshmallows. Let’s replace these two dishes with one healthier option, mashed sweet potatoes.
Peel and boil 2-3 medium sweet potatoes until tender. Drain the water and mash the potatoes thoroughly. Add in a few tablespoons of plain greek yogurt (don’t overdo it unless you’re going for a sour cream mashed potatoes flavor) for texture, a half-teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of sugar. Mix thoroughly and they’re ready to serve.
Offer your guests the options of butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar — so they can choose just how sweet or savory they want to go. Remember to save your leftovers, as sweet potato pancakes can make a great healthy breakfast the next morning.
Mulling It Over
Mulled wine is popular during the winter months, especially at holiday parties, but it’s easy for those empty calories to undo a lot of the good you’re doing by choosing healthy holiday food options. When you’re looking for a warm beverage, try mulled cider. It has fewer calories, and a good cider is naturally sweet, without added sugar.
Mulled cider is so tasty, you’ll convert your wine-drinking friends. Choose a quality organic cider that has no sugar added and use your favorite mulling spices. The results smell great and taste amazing — whether bundled up outside or relaxing next to a fireplace.
You Can Be Healthy Over The Holidays
Eating healthy holiday food can be a great way to maintain your fitness commitment throughout the holiday season. By making smart choices, you’ll have less to make up for when you return to the gym after New Year’s. Better yet, keep up your training throughout the holiday season when you come into Krav Maga Worldwide classes on a regular basis.