MPH Blog

Healthy Christmas Eating

Christmas is the highlight of the year for people all over the world. Celebrating with family, reminiscing about cherished memories, and enjoying good food all makes for a wonderful time. A description of the holiday season matches a description of its food— both are warm, rich, and festive.

However, rich and delicious food does not have to be unhealthy or fattening. Through a few simple substitutions, your Christmas food can remain memorable without sacrificing your dietary health. Most of our suggested substitutions result in fresher, more elegant dishes!

Tip #1: Use Roasted Sweet Potatoes Instead of Yams

Candied yams and sugary mashed sweet potatoes are part of the traditional Christmas meal. However, these dishes are packed with corn syrup, sugar, and other undesirable types of calories. Instead, substitute the candied ingredients for fresh sweet potatoes.

Roasting brings out the natural sugars of the sweet potato, and the caramelization from the roasting adds an extra dimension to the flavor. As a result, very little needs to be added to the potatoes. Its flavor is naturally enhanced from the cooking rather than the sugary ingredients.

Tip #2: Use Vanilla Extract Instead of White Sugar

When it comes to Christmas dessert, the secret to health is to maximize flavor without simply resorting to extra sugar. One way to cut way down on the refined sugar is to use vanilla extract. Vanilla is delicious, and actually offers a deeper and more complex flavor than cane sugar would.

Most sources recommend substituting two tablespoons of vanilla per cup of sugar. That is cutting it down from 773 calories to 76 calories—that’s 10% of the calories! Your desserts will have complex flavors that will not cost you your waistline or blood sugar.

Tip #3: Make a Roasting Juice Instead of Gravy

When people make their own gravy, they tend to use a great deal of flour, butter, cream, and the fat from the turkey. However, European chefs have been using lighter sauces known as “roasting juices” as an alternative to heavy gravy for years.

To make a roasting juice, pour the roasting liquids from the turkey into a cup and let it settle. Once the fat rises to the top, spoon it out. With what’s left, put it back into the roasting pan and turn on the stove. Take the juices to a boil and add white wine, reducing it. For extra flavor, scrape the leftover bits from the roasted turkey—this is known as sediment.

When the sauce has reduced to a light glaze, it is ready. What will result is a rich, delicious, and savory sauce without the fat from the butter, cream, or turkey. The flavor will complement your dishes well while allowing you to enjoy more of it.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.