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Healthy Holiday Side Dishes

Written By: Emma Squillace

If you’re craving holiday foods, but worried about sabotaging your weight loss work, there is hope. Many of the high-calorie foods we love this season can be made more healthy. Today we’ll share our version of some of our favorite holiday side dishes that can help, instead of hurt, your weight loss or healthy eating efforts.

Cauliflower Mashed ‘Potatoes’

Have you tried this low-carb version of mashed potatoes? If not, you may be suspicious… cauliflower doesn’t necessarily seem like a good substitute for a creamy, hot side of mashed potatoes. However, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you give this one a chance. Cauliflower is becoming such a popular substitute for rice and potatoes that some stores like Trader Joes even sell riced cauliflower to make the process even faster.

If you don’t have the pre-riced version, cut one head of cauliflower into small pieces and boil for 5-6 minutes.

Drain very well and pat the cauliflower as dry as possible with towels.

Put the cauliflower back in the dry pan and mash with a fork or potato masher.

Add ¼ – ½ cup of light sour cream to reach the consistency you’d like, and mix in your choice of herb and spices, or stick to a simple blend of salt and pepper.

A serving of cauliflower has less than 1/4th the calories of an equal amount of potato!

More Fiber, Fewer Carbs Stuffing

Even though bread stuffing may seem like one of those foods that will break the bank on calories and carbs, our version cuts the carbs and ups the fiber – so you and your family can enjoy this comfort food without guilt.

Feel free to use these modifications on your favorite homemade stuffing recipe, but a boxed mix like Pepperidge Farm works well too.

Cut 3 large carrots and 4 stalks of celery into bite-size pieces. Sauté over medium heat in 1½  tablespoons of butter for 8 minutes.

Cut 1 large apple (or 2 small apples) into bite size pieces.

Now follow the stuffing directions on the box, but reduce the bread by half, and reduce the liquid by 1/3rd. Then follow the directions for making the stuffing.

Mix your carrots, celery, and apple to the stuffing just before baking.

By adding veggies and apple, we bulk up the recipe so you can actually eat more of it. You’ll still get the nice flavor and texture from the bread, but with the fresh produce mixed in you’ll have fewer calories, more fiber, and an overall healthier stuffing than you would otherwise.

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots with Cinnamon

This recipe adds even more vegetables to your table, while bringing in the warm, holiday flavors of brown sugar and cinnamon. Kids also tend to like this because of the buttery sweetness of the carrot glaze.

Use 2 pounds of baby carrots, or 2 pounds of regular carrots cut into 2-inch long pieces.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the carrots. Let them boil for about 4 minutes, and then transfer them into a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process and leave you with a nice texture.

Boil 1 cup of chicken or veggie stock and ¼ cup of brown sugar, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half.

Stir in 3 tbs of butter or reduced calorie butter.

When the butter is melted, add the carrots,and sprinkle in 2 tsp cinnamon.

Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 8-12 minutes. You want the sauce to be thick enough to coat the carrots, and the carrots to be the right texture, so taste one after about 8 minutes and decide if they’re done. Add salt to taste.

Beet & Orange Salad

Beets have such a beautiful color that having them on your holiday table will be a side dish and decoration in one.

To make this easy salad, combine raw shredded beets (found at many grocery stores, or make your own if you’d like) with the segments of 3 small oranges.

Dress the salad with a balsamic or apple cider vinaigrette. If you’d like, top the salad with ¼ cup of feta cheese and/or a ¼ cup of roast pumpkin seeds. If you can find fresh dill, it makes an excellent topper for this salad also.

Holidays should be about time with family and friends, hopefully enjoying a little time at home.  Dieting shouldn’t add stress to your holidays, but the reality is that we’re faced with plenty of unhealthy food options.  Try these side dishes to keep flavors and comfort at your table, while maintaining progress towards your goals. If you’re frustrated by dieting, call West Medical to find out about surgical and non-surgical efforts to help you find weight loss success. You can reach us at 855-690-0565.

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