10 Simple Swaps for a Healthier WinterArticle posted in: Nutrition
Winter can be a scary time for your diet. The colder weather usually keeps us sedentary, and the overabundance of unhealthy foods around the holidays can be a recipe for diet disaster! Fortunately, there are also many healthy seasonal winter dishes which can easily be substituted to ensure you enjoy all your favorite foods this time of year—without packing on an extra winter layer. Find out which food swaps you can make this season to have a healthier winter!
Check out our 10 winter food swaps for healthier winter season:
1. Holiday Sweets
A famously anticipated part of the winter season is those holiday cookies that your mom, neighbor and co-worker start handing out all too early. With an excess of accessible sweets, it can be difficult to stay on track with your diet. Keep some festive winter fruits, such as cranberries, pomegranates or pears on hand to snack on when you want to eat something sweet. If you still need something sweet for dessert, try our Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie recipe, which has just 140 calories for two cookies.
2. Mashed Side Dishes
A favorite side with many winter dishes, mashed potatoes are often passed around the table during dinner this time of year. If you want to indulge in that fluffy and pillowy potato goodness, try making it with sweet potato! According to the USDA, traditional ready-to-eat mashed potatoes can have upwards of 243 calories in just a cup—and that’s just a side of your full meal! When you switch to sweet potato, you will enjoy an influx of additional health benefits along with a higher vitamin A and fiber content. Sweet potato is also has a lower glycemic index than white potato and can help stabilize your moods and blood sugar. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of this superfood sweet potato and check out our recipe for Sweet Potato Fries for another healthy side to make this season.
3. Festive Drinks
The sweet taste of eggnog epitomizes that special seasonal feeling of cozying up beside a warm winter fire. Although this tempting drink is often brought to holiday parties and widely available at coffee shops this season, you should avoid the urge to indulge in this heavy, high-calorie beverage, which can have around 224 calories in just a one-cup serving, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). If you make your own eggnog, you can be sure to use ingredients from your South Beach Grocery Guide to avoid overdoing it on the sugar.
Nothing warms up a cold night better than a casserole like mom used to make. But, these types of dishes are beloved for one main reason: They are often overloaded with many hidden, yet unhealthy ingredients that have excessive amounts of fats, sugars and carbs. When you want a hot meal that’s bursting with flavor, try baking a healthy dish with some spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles, both of which can be paired with all types of winter veggies. You can also try our recipe for delicious Eggplant and Ricotta with Whole-Wheat Penne, so you can enjoy a hearty dish without hurting your weight loss progress.
Warm, heavy soups are like a food blanket for us to turn to in the cold winter months, but not all soups are created equal. While you may want to choose something comforting like a cheddar broccoli soup, potato soup or lobster bisque, you need to pass on these types of soups because they are made with cream base, which can up the calorie count. Instead of weighing yourself down, try something with a broth base, such as a classic chicken noodle soup, vegetable soup or black bean soup. Or, if you’re craving a cream base, be sure to stick to one tablespoon per serving. All these soups showcase healthy proteins and can be made with South-Beach-approved ingredients. You can also try our recipe for Apple Butternut Squash Soup which has a chicken broth base and just 160 calories per serving.
6. Holiday Roasts
Everything seems to slow down a bit during the winter, including our cooking. Many people find it easy to create big stews, roasts and other multi-ingredient dishes that are put in the oven or slow cooker to build flavor over many hours. Mostly all of our holiday meals feature something such as this, but these types of dishes make it easy to sneak in excess fats, sugars and carbs into our diets to destroy our weight loss progress. Instead, grab a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store and pair it with your favorite low-carb sides. Rotisserie chickens are tender and there so many different ways to use them, so you can still enjoying festive, seasonal meals like roasted chicken with gravy.
Gravy is the preferred sauce for just about every type of meat we see around the holidays, and whether you buy from the store or eat homemade, it’s most likely made with starch, flour and fat drippings. Needless to say, this combination can create a high-calorie addition to any meal. If you’re looking for something to pour over your ham, pork, chicken or turkey dinner, look to something a bit less dense. Something healthier and just as festive that you can add to just about any meat is pesto sauce. Made from basil and pine nuts, pesto is not only vibrant and delicious but also full of healthy fats that can actually help protect your heart and deter chronic illness! Make sure to try our Loin Lamb Chops with Mint Pesto recipe for a seasonal dish everyone will love. You can also make a similar gravy-type side, made with pureed vegetables and a low-sodium stock base instead of fat drippings, for a much healthier alternative to complement your winter dinners.
8. Peppermint Treats
Popping up at stores around this time of year, peppermint bark is a fun, seasonal treat containing a few types of chocolate flavored with mint, making it a festive dessert for many. If you’re trying to stay in shape despite the season, this sweet is one you can may want to skip. Instead, try something similar tasting, yet more nutritional with our Thin Mint Delight recipe so you can maintain your waistline while still enjoying a delicious, wintry dessert.
Let’s face it, it’s not a traditional holiday meal without some type of pie for dessert. While pumpkin, apple and berry pies may seem healthy, it’s never a good option for someone who wants to watch their weight. Instead of reaching for an overly sweet slice of pie, try a healthy alternative by making your own ‘crustless’ pie in order to shave off the excess carbs. Baked fruit is also a great way to get in something sweet without overloading on the sugar or carbs contained in traditional pies. Or, try our Apple and Almond Soufflé recipe, which has just 150 calories per serving.
Over the years, hard apple cider has become a popular favorite for adults during the holidays. It has the sweet flavor of apple along with a tangy aftertaste—and don’t forget the pleasant warmth the alcohol provides during the cold winter nights. At South Beach Diet, we recommend choosing a light beer or dry wine if you want to indulge in a beverage. If you’re craving that apple-filled flavor, plain apple cider with no sugar added is a better option for your weight loss goals. You can also enjoy our Apple Cinnamon Smoothie Bowl for the fresh tastes of apple in a sweet and nutritional treat.