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Healthy Holiday Swaps

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Give your favorite recipes a makeover this holiday season.

By Kelly Nardo

The holidays are a time when indulgent desserts are abundant, cookie-decorating parties are expected and leftover holiday dishes fill the fridge. But while many strive to practice balance this time of year, it can tough with so many celebrations focused on rich holiday dishes. But don’t worry; there is a still a way to enjoy without jeopardizing your health-and-fitness goals. Here are seven easy holiday food swaps.

  1. Coconut oil, mashed banana, avocado and ghee. Depending on the recipe, there are numerous substitutes for butter. Coconut oil and ghee work well in cooking or baking at a one-to-one ratio, while mashed banana or avocado is best in baked goods.
  2. Coconut sugar. Coconut sugar contains iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and fiber. It also has a slower glucose-absorption rate in the body. Don’t forget sugar is sugar and should be consumed in moderation.
  3. Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt packs 25 grams of protein per cup while also providing probiotics to aid digestion and promote healthy gut bacteria. Substitute it for sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise.
  4. Spiralized vegetables. Using a spiralizer is a wonderful way to add more vegetables to any dish. Consider substituting spiralized veggies for pasta. Check out this recipe for a fun holiday brunch.
  5. Full-fat coconut milk. Coconut milk has a thick and creamy texture like cream, but contains manganese, copper and iron. It can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and prevents disease. Substitute it for heavy cream.
  6. Whole-wheat flour. When substituting for white flour, this is a simple one-to-one swap. Whole-wheat flour is heart-healthy and is lower on the glycemic index than white flour. If the flavor is a concern, try white whole-wheat flour, which still has the same benefits but a milder taste.  
  7.  Unsweetened cacao powder. Cacao is chocolate in its raw form, made from cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. Cocoa powder found at many grocery stores may look the same, but it has been roasted at high temperatures, which lowers the nutritional value. Opt instead for cacao, which packs antioxidants, magnesium, iron and potassium.
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