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Healthy Holiday Cooking Tips

healthy holiday cooking tips

During the holidays, it can feel overwhelming to keep on track with your diet and exercise plan. The food we eat during holiday meals also happens to be anything but healthy. The good news is there are several ways to make your favorite foods a lot healthier without having to sacrifice flavor.


      • 1. Unsweetened applesauce for sugar

        Did you know that on average a person eats equal to about 350 extra calories a day in sugar? A great way to decrease the amount of sugar in your recipes is by using unsweetened applesauce. Try this on for thought – one cup of sugar equals more than 770 calories, while one cup of unsweetened applesauce totals only 100. When baking, you can substitute applesauce for sugar evenly at a 1:1 ratio. While some cannot fathom using applesauce in place of sugar in their traditional recipes, you can also half the amount of sugar and use vanilla or almond flavoring to intensify the sweetness.

      • 2. Avocado and bananas for butter or oil

        While this substitution might sound odd, both butter, avocado and bananas have the same texture. While you try this substitution in some of your favorite recipes you might find you prefer the slight hint of banana in your baked goods more than avocado, but they can be used interchangeably. Most often both are used in chocolate creations such as brownies and cakes, generally using a 1:1 ratio is the best way to substitute. Try this recipe for banana bread using bananas instead of butter:

      • 3. Yogurt based dips

        While appetizers are delicious, if you are not careful you could be wasting all your calories before you even get to the meal! An easy substitute is to replace any sour cream or cream cheese based dips with low-fat or nonfat greek yogurt.

      • 4. Graham cracker pie crusts

        Pie is one of the most popular holiday desserts, while delicious it can easily surpass over 500 calories a slice! Most of these calories are coming from the crust. Instead of using a cookie based crust choose reduced fat graham crackers which offer the same consistency and flavor with about half the calories.

      • 5. Vegetables instead of carbohydrates

        A great way to not only save calories and carbohydrates, is by substituting with vegetables. A common holiday side is mashed potatoes and while delicious, the amount of carbohydrates and calories can significantly trump even your main dish. You can substitute your mashed potatoes for cauliflower without most even knowing the difference. It’s easy prepare, simply cook your cauliflower for about 12-15 minutes and drain. Afterwards proceed with your normal ingredients that you would use for your potatoes.

Spiralized zucchini and spaghetti squash are a great substitute for noodles in any of your pasta dishes. For example, one cup of cooked spaghetti can boast 220 calories while a cup of spaghetti squash is only about 42 and offers a host of other nutrients.

These holiday recipe ingredient substitutes can help keep your focus on your family and friends during the holidays instead of on calories. The simplicity of using these substitutions can be easily integrated into your traditional cooking for years to come!

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