Want to stay slim for the holidays without missing out on the delicious eats and treats that the season has to offer? You totally can! (That's right - feasting on raw kale all December long isn't your only option!)
In fact, there are plenty of eating tricks that you can employ to up your nutrient intake of every meal you eat during the holidays, without compromising on flavour.
Here are four of Toronto-based author and nutritionist Meghan Telpner's favourite, most creative ways to load up on nutrition over the holiday season...
Four ways to sneak nutrition into your meals
#1: Use tea instead of water or broth in your meals
According to Telpner, the herbs contained in teas are mighty powerful and pack active compounds that support your health. So instead of using water or broth in your meals this holiday season, Telpner recommends brewing up a pot of green, ginger, chamomile or fennel tea, and then using the brewed tea as the liquid for cooking grains, roasting or poaching meats, or adding to soups, smoothies and gravies.
#2: Forgo white sugar for natural sweeteners
Telpner doesn’t deny that the holiday season is definitely a favourite time of the year for people with a sweet tooth. But because refined white sugar is associated with a plethora of health issues, from obesity
and tooth decay to diabetes
, she recommends cutting it out and opting for natural sugar alternatives instead. Here are a few of Telpner’s favourites:
Raw honey: It’s antibacterial as well as rich in enzymes and amino acids.
Maple syrup: A fantastic source of antioxidants, iron and calcium.
Coconut sugar and syrup: These sweeteners derived from coconuts are low on the glycaemic index and chock-full of minerals.
Dates: They’re high in fibre, potassium and B vitamins, which help with energy and stress levels.
For baking, Telpner recommends coconut sugar, which lends baked goods a lovely, caramel flavour. To replace liquid sweetners like corn syrup, she says you can’t go wrong with raw honey or maple syrup. And to sweeten drinks like smoothies, she loves using dates.
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Here’s the plain truth. Diets alone don’t work.
How many diets have you been on, weight loss pills you’ve consumed, injections you’ve had to endure? You might have lost some weight but it’s probably all back on again…
The truth is that there is no magic solution to make the weight drop off.
The secret to successful weight loss isn’t starving yourself nor is it limiting your food choices or following a painful pattern of eating.
#3: Experiment with grain-free alternatives
Most traditional holiday dishes like breads and baked goods are loaded with refined flours and starches. So Telpner recommends choosing grain-free alternatives instead of turning to fluffy breads and grains. These are some of her favourites:
#4: Cook with healthy oils
Cauliflower rice: With a delicious taste and incredible rice-like consistency, cauliflower rice is great for stuffing peppers or making “rice” pilaf, burgers and lots more. You can also make cauliflower mash by mashing cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes, which is tasty as a side or as a topping for shepherd’s pie.
Chickpea flatbread: Rich in both protein and fibre, chickpea flour is a healthy alternative to white flour for making flatbreads. Simply mix equal parts chickpea flour and water and use the mixture for an incredible flatbread. It’s perfect for dipping! Plus, chickpea flour is amazing in pancake batters.
Almond bread or crackers: Ground almonds or any nut or seed are a fabulous replacement for white flour in breads, crackers, cookies and cakes. Not only are they delicious, they’re also excellent source of protein, fibre and healthy fats.
Cheap cooking oils tend to be highly genetically modified and go rancid quickly, so Telpner recommends avoiding anything that comes in a plastic bottles and buying high-quality oils in dark-coloured bottles instead. For high-heat cooking, she recommends virgin organic coconut oil, avocado oil and ghee. For medium-heat cooking, she says olive oil is your best bet. Also, if there are two oils you should never heat, it’s hemp
and flax oil.
Telpner says that using oils wisely will allow their healthy fats to fuel your cells, nourish your brain and nervous system, support digestion, improve your skin health and maintain your heart health.
These straightforward eating tips are super-easy to implement during the holiday season and will offer you an added edge of nutritional value. Remember – vibrant health and delicious food is the best gift that you can give your loved ones!