From candy canes and Christmas cookies to roasted meats, rich gravies, and buttery side dishes, the holidays bring endless indulgences. By now, your calendar is probably jam-packed with cocktail parties, holiday feasts, and cookie swaps—and all of these are bound to be accompanied by high-fat, high-calorie foods. When you’re surrounded by such dishes and desserts all season long, who doesn’t want to try a bite of this, a nibble of that?
The key to a healthful holiday season is moderation. Yes, it’s important not to abandon your long-term fitness and weight-loss goals, but telling yourself that the incredible appetizer everyone around you is enjoying is off-limits isn’t likely to quash your desire to try it—and in many cases the longer you try to deny yourself something, the greater the temptation will feel.
Offering to contribute a dish to your next holiday party is one way to ensure that the spread will include something healthful, which will balance out some occasional splurges (and help you feel satisfied, so you don’t go overboard on the pumpkin pie). Spruce up a fresh green salad with pears, which are in season (toss sliced or diced pears with a little fresh lemon juice to prevent them from browning), or roast diced root vegetables—sweet potatoes, parsnips, and beets are a gorgeous combination—with salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and a little olive oil.
For the dessert spread, try this low-fat gingerbread cake, made with whole-grain flour. The familiar spicy notes are evocative of the holiday season, but those spices do a whole lot more: ginger aids in digestion, reduces inflammation, improves the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and eliminates congestion, while cinnamon is believed to lower cholesterol and reduce blood sugar in people who have diabetes. Some of the cake’s sweetness comes from molasses, which is high in potassium and a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin B-6.
Fresh foods made with nutritious ingredients are always delicious, no matter what time of year, and combined with more indulgent treats, they make for a satisfying holiday meal.