Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays are phrases you frequently hear this time of year. They bring joy and cheer, but unfortunately you also hear a lot of these phrases this time of year:
“Don’t eat that!”
“Only take one bite!”
“That’s loaded with calories so you better run 10 miles today if you’re going to eat it!”
“That will pack on the pounds!”
“If it tastes good, it will probably kill your diet!”
The truth is, for many holiday goodies, this is true. From holiday beverages to your grandma’s casserole to your favorite Christmas pie, many holiday foods are filled with calories. But there is hope as there are some foods that you CAN eat this time of year that actually amp up your nutrient game! In fact, they are foods that you can include at Christmas parties, family gatherings or as snacks around your house that won’t pack on pounds or make you feel like you should live on the treadmill.
If you think about it, many food this time of year look the same color, a version of tan. Cookies, pastry pie tops, dressing, turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, etc. all are similar in nature color-wise. So, this holiday season, let’s deck the halls (and your dining table) with color and nutrients by adding these 5 foods to your Christmas meals:
- Pumpkin – Pumpkin is rich in fiber and an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Antioxidants help your body fight off disease, illness and other harmful things that attack your body. This makes them key for winter months when the flu and its friends hit hard! Most people think of pumpkin bread, which is loaded with calories. However, you can also roast pumpkin and eat it like a sweet potato or dice it into a salad. It can also be used in risotto or rice dishes. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted in the oven and used as nutrient-rich snack for your kids too.
- Citrus foods – Most people think oranges when think of citrus, but the truth is that lemon, lime, strawberries, kiwi and more all fall into this category. Citrus foods boast of vitamin C which is also an antioxidant. You can eat citrus foods as a snack or incorporate them into salads, fruit cups or a yogurt parfait as a snack. Strawberries had a splash of Christmas cheer into salad, a bowl of oatmeal or on top of fruit pie.
- Winter squash – Acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash are a fun addition to a platter of roasted veggies and spaghetti squash can serve as a lower-calorie version of spaghetti noodles too. Loaded with vitamin A, C, K and folate, these are nutrient-rich way to add some flavor in a unique way.
- Nuts – Most people think of nuts as being high in fat, and it is true they are a good source of poly and mono-unsaturated fat. However, they are also rich in fiber, iron and protein. Dry roasted nuts can be added to salads or sprinkled in rice, quinoa or couscous dishes for crunch and flavor. They can also replace flour as a crusting on salad or fish. In addition, nuts are a filling snack. Pair them with a fruit and you have a snack high in vitamins and minerals.
- Dark green leafy veggies – Not only do dark green leafy veggies add a plethora of color to your plate, they are rich in vitamin C, iron, fiber, B vitamins and the list goes on. Whether you are making an appetizer salad, blending them into a breakfast smoothie or having them as a side at dinner, include them! They will help you feel full faster at meals!