The holidays are a time for celebrating and feeling festive. But all the indulgences can lead to an average weight gain of five to ten pounds from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. Here are some easy tips to help you nutrify your side dishes and kick of the festivities on a healthy note:
1. Green up as many side dishes as possible.
• Chop up tiny pieces of kale, spinach, chard, or any leafy green and add
it to whole grain dishes, casseroles, stews, pastas, and soups.
• Make collard green or nori wraps by stuffing and rolling with your
favorite spreads, veggies, grains, and beans, and eating them burrito-
style or slicing into bite-sized pieces.
• Give greens a starring role: think maple-roasted Brussels sprouts,
lemon-grilled asparagus, and cheesy kale chips.
2. Opt for whole-r choices:
• Brown or wild rice instead of white
• Quinoa, barley, oats, rye, buckwheat, couscous, or sprouted grain
breads instead of white or wheat breads
• Whole grain flour instead of white flour
3. Make an un-cheesy shaker like my “Parmesan Shake” from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition:
• In a food processor, combine 1 cup almonds, 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes, 4 tablespoons raw sesame seeds, and 2 teaspoons of kelp powder and process until it turns into a powder.
• Shake it on pastas, soups, salads, spreads, casseroles, and anything else you would use Parmesan.
4. DIY Dressings are much more flavorful and nutritious than store-bought ones and they don’t require preservatives! My favorite recipe is this Maple-Mustard Dressing:
• In a blender, add the following ingredients: 1 cup water, ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes, ¼ cup sesame tahini paste, 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons mustard, 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, zest and juice of 2 lemons, and 1 can white beans, rinsed well (optional to reduce fat and thicken dressing).
• Blend until thoroughly combined and enjoy over salads, grain dishes, baked potatoes, and more.
5. Sauté with vegetable broth, water, vinegar, coconut water, beer, or wine instead of oil to save hundreds of calories of pure fat. Typically, it takes approximately ¼ cup of the liquids to replace 1 tablespoon of oil.
6. Swap out an animal product with its plant-based counterpart in recipes:
• Almond, coconut, soy, or rice milk for dairy milk
• Vegetable broth for chicken or beef broth
• Vegan cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, butter
• Mock meat
7. Serve a hearty, festive vegetable soup with beans and/or potatoes as an appetizer to fill you and your guests up with nutrients before indulging in the main course.
8. Replace 1 cup of oil with 1 cup of fruit or veggie puree (applesauce, pureed pumpkin, mashed banana) to lower fat content and maintain moisture when baking.
9. Try flax eggs for a boost of omega-3 fatty acids in dressings, sauces, mayonnaise, or baked goods! Simply blend, mix, or whisk 1 tablespoons ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water until the mixture thickens.
10. Use date paste as a sweetener in baked goods to replace refined sugars.
• Soak pitted dates in almond milk (or another plant-based milk, water, juice, or coconut water) for at least a couple hours or overnight in the fridge. Use only enough liquid to cover the dates.
• When dates appear flaky and swollen, pour off a little bit of the liquid and blend them together with remaining liquid in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Plant-Based Dietitian, Julieanna Hever.