10 Healthy Holiday Shortcuts

Whether you are having a holiday party, intimate Christmas dinner or Hanukkah gathering here are some tips to make your goodies a little healthier, but still full of flavor:

  1. When making your holiday veggies NYC Gastroenterologist Dr. Prem Chattoo says you don’t have to stick with Brussels Sprouts and green beans. Instead he recommends portobello mushrooms, artichokes, eggplant and kale. he says, “These tend to be my favorites because while they are very filling they are also low in starch and glycemic index so they do not spike your blood sugar.”
  2. Instead of mashed potatoes Dr. Chattoo recommends a cauliflower mash. Chattoo obviously knows a lot about the effects of food on the body, but as owner of the West Village restaurant The Warren he says he also knows food has to taste good, “Cauliflower mash really helps you cut down on the carbs and your guests will be surprised at how great it tastes. Trust me they will be asking for seconds.” Side note: The Warren is a great place to host holiday parties so if you don’t want to do the work they will do it for you. How’s that for a shortcut?
  3. We know lamb, turkey and ham will be making the way onto holiday plates, but Dr. Chattoo says also think about adding shredded chicken breast, grass fed beef, and salmon to mix. He says, “these meats are my favorite because they tend to work really well in smaller sizes. We tend to fill our plates with lots of turkey and ham, but in reality the portion size should be no larger than the size of your palm.”
  4. You can’t have a holiday meal without pecan or apple pie, but Dr. Chattoo recommends also offering guests sugar free-poached pears with cinnamon and nutmeg. He says this is tasty option, but low on the glycemic index.
  5. We often just keep our holiday meals sweet and spicy, but NYC Physical Therapist Dr. Karena Wu recommends adding a little spice to your holiday meals. She says, “a great side effect from spicy food is it’s anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with lots of conditions including arthritis. It helps with pain and healing by increasing blood flow to an affected area.”
  6. My own tip is one my LetsEatMiami.com readers love, celebrate meatless Mondays everyday in one way or another. This means always remembering to make several vegetarian or vegan options. These are dishes everyone can eat and if you make them vegan you also know they are cholesterol free. One idea is serving quinoa with dried cranberries, walnuts and sliced apple. Toss it with a little olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt and you’ve got a delicious side dish for all to enjoy!
  7. To add a little more healthy veggie protein or iron into meals puree a can of white beans and add it to your mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash. For every three parts of mashed potatoes I add one part of white bean puree. You’ll be shocked at how much flavor these add to this popular side dish.
  8. Private NYC Chef Mark Bailey says, “Arriving early to your holiday party ensures you won’t miss the passed hors d’oeuvres which, unlike the dinner buffet, this is where you will find most non-meat/dairy options. Loading up on those non-meat/dairy appetizers will leave you less ravenous when the dinner buffet opens with those limited vegan options.”
  9. Who says all veggies at holiday events have to be cooked? Chef Bailey says, “Graze the crudités bar and load up on your favorite veggies. To avoid dairy, pass on the creamy dip and create your own dip using the vinaigrette served with the salad.”
  10. Cold weather means it’s a a great season for soups and Chef Bailey says these are great for holiday gatherings. “Not only are soups easy to make in big quantities, but it’s easy to make a healthy, but tasty option for guests. Choosing broth based vs. non-creamy soups is a great way to avoid meat and dairy at holiday parties.”