Healthy Holiday Eating: 16 Tips for a Delicious and Nutritious Menu
The end-of-year holidays usually end up with several extra pounds, high blood sugar spikes, and some gastritis, right? But is it possible to eat incredibly delicious, and healthy at the same time? Of course! Here I leave you some tips to make small changes that will make a big difference in your holiday menu.
- Don't buy anything pre-made, no boxes, no bags of dressings, or shortcuts to flavor. All these processed products are loaded with additives, but they also contain hidden sugar and fats that are not good for your heart. Whatever you need to flavor your dishes, you can do it in less than 5 minutes and with healthy ingredients from your pantry.
- Wisely choose the ingredients to use. For example, avoid vegetable oils, opt for avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil. Vegetable oils are highly inflammatory and cause oxidative stress in the body and unfortunately most come from genetically modified seeds, which makes them even more dangerous.
- If you are going to make any dessert, let your favorite sweeteners be yacón syrup, pure maple, coconut sugar, honey or panela or sucanat (which includes the vitamins and minerals of real sugarcane). Sugar is sugar, but there are qualities of it and we should always opt for the purest, least processed, and those that are real food. Personally, I don't think any sweetener that has been created in a laboratory, like xylitol, erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, allulose, etc., is healthy or safe in the long term.
- Fill your table with dishes where vegetables stand out, either raw or cooked or even better if you have both options, it will also make your table a feast of colors, textures and flavors. Remember that vegetables and protein should prevail in your plate.
- Include nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, etc.) and avocado, these provide you with healthy fats, additional protein, and a feeling of satiety. Remember that eating two or three servings of mac & cheese, with a couple of tacos, fried chicken, and an extra portion of beans is not the same as eating two or three servings of vegetables with nuts, avocado, and a good piece of meat.
- Eliminate sodas and opt for healthy, easy, and quick alternatives. For example, you can serve sparkling water with lemon, or boil pineapple peels, apples, cinnamon, cloves, cranberries, and hibiscus flowers; and serve it even without sweetener because the fruit itself is already sweet. You can make Peruvian chicha morada or serve boiled black tea with spices like the classic iced tea but a homemade version, and you can even make this one or two days before the event.
- If you are going to make a punch with champagne and fruit juices, let it be real fruit, do not use boxed juices that are loaded with added sugar and also remember that pasteurization eliminates nutrients.
- If you are going to include potatoes or rice, prepare them the day before and refrigerate them for 24 hours, so they will become resistant starch and will not give you blood sugar spikes, and will also serve as prebiotic fiber improving your gut health.
- Opt for baked foods instead of frying or in any case choose the air fryer as a cooking method.
- Instead of using disposable aluminum trays, which are neurotoxic, use ceramic or glass trays for baking; there are inexpensive versions made just for sharing at parties.
- There are many recipes that you can prepare in advance and even freeze until the day of your celebration, so plan ahead so you don't have extra work that day.
- Replace bottled salad dressings (which are generally loaded with sugar, flavorings, and vegetable oils as well as additives) with simple recipes you can make in five minutes with a glass jar and a few ingredients. When you use quality ingredients, the flavor is unmatched!
- If you are going to serve alcohol, opt for tequila or mezcal which have less sugar than others.
- If you are going to serve fruits, remember that berries (raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries) have less sugar and lots of antioxidants; let these be your fruit of choice.
- As much as possible, try to make sure all your ingredients are organic; these have more flavor and nutrients.
- And finally, remember that cooking is an opportunity to share as a family and create incredible memories together.