Simple swaps to make your holiday recipes healthier

Healthy food clean eating selection: fruit, vegetable, seeds, superfood, cereal, leaf vegetable on gray concrete background

November is Eat Smart Month and the American Heart Association has eight ways to hack your holiday recipes so they are healthier for your heart. Start off by remembering that there are benefits to eating healthier.

“Some studies suggest that eating well may improve your mood,” said Peggy A. Thomas MSN, RN, American Heart Association advisory board member and Administrator of Perioperative and Invasive Services at St. Joseph Health. “Instead of looking at holiday eating as a wellness obstacle, try looking at it as an opportunity. Even the subtle shift from negative thinking to positive thinking can be a holiday stress-buster.”

Thomas suggests taking small steps. You don't have to wait until the new year to form good habits.

“Don’t make bad decisions in November and promise yourself a January health reboot,” Thomas said. “Instead, celebrate the season with no regrets by enjoying special occasion foods in moderation and swapping in healthier substitutions when you have control over the menu.”

Here are some suggestions from the American Heart Association.

1.Look for “low-sodium” veggies or try the frozen varieties. Reading labels is a simple way to get healthy results.

2.Replace salt with herbs and spices.

3.Choose canned fruits packed in juice or water rather than syrup.

4.Swap non-fat, plain Greek yogurt for sour cream.

5.Instead of butter, use a healthier vegetable oil or substitute equal parts unsweetened applesauce when baking.

6.Sneak in a vegetable like pureed sweet potatoes, carrots or cauliflower to boost nutrition. Thomas recommends keeping frozen cubes of pureed vegetables in the freezer so they’re ready to go.

7.Go for half and half — half wheat and half white flour.

8.Drink smarter by adding seasonal fruit to water.

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