Simple Swaps For Your Favorite Holiday Comfort Foods

by Shahrzad Warkentin

With the weather turning colder and the days growing shorter, it’s no wonder the holidays are full of eating indulgences. Comfort food helps you get cozy on a cold day and fight the stresses of the holiday season, but typically most of your favorite dishes aren’t the healthiest. You can still enjoy the flavors of the season, from pumpkin spice to apple pie, with some guilt-free food swaps.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

pumpkin-spice lateThe pumpkin craze is officially on. What began as cozy pumpkin spice lattes has quickly spiraled into pumpkin spice everything. The good news is, with so many options, it’s easier to indulge without feeling so guilty. Spiced pumpkin teas, for example, are a simple food swap that let you enjoy a hot, flavorful beverage without all the calories. If you simply can’t live without the latte fix, however. The best option is to simply make it yourself at home. Instead of sugar-filled syrup, use pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to dose up your cup of java.

Healthy Swap:

Add 1 cup of milk, or unsweetened milk substitute, like almond or coconut milk, 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice to a small saucepan and heat on medium heat, stirring with a whisk until warm and frothy. Pour the milk mixture over a 1/4 cup of coffee or espresso. Sprinkle some pumpkin spice on top and enjoy.

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Sweet Potatoes

sweet-potatoMarshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole is traditional at holiday dinners. While that sweet, buttery flavor makes for some indulgent comfort food, the whole milk and butter packed into most recipes are not exactly the healthiest choices. You can still enjoy the rich flavor you love, but with way less fat and calories using an easy healthy recipe swap.

Healthy Swap:

Peel and cube 3 - 4 large sweet potatoes. Toss them in a bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil and three tablespoons of brown sugar until coated. Place them single layer on a lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 30 - 40 minutes or until fork tender, stirring once halfway through. Once the cubes have cooled place them in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth.


Apple Pie

apple pieNothing says comfort food during the holidays quite like pie. You can still enjoy a sweet treat, without out all the added sugar (and guilt!) by simplifying things a little bit. Baked apples give you the same spiced, buttery texture as pie without the heavy crust.

Healthy Swap:

Core 6 apples leaving the peel on. In a bowl mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons fat-free butter spread, 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Divide the mixture evenly between the six apples to fill the cores. Add the apples along with 1/4 cup apple juice and 1/4 cup water to a crockpot. Cook on high for 2 - 3 hours.

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You'd be hard pressed to find a holiday party without plenty of belly-pleasing appetizers. Though they are often bite-sized indulgences, loading a plate full of apps can quickly add up in fat and calories. You can still say yes to the apps, by lightening things up a bit with some simple ingredient swaps.

Healthy Swap:

Cheese and crackers are a comfort food staple, but you can easily make them guilt-free by swapping crackers for thin-sliced fruit, like apples and pears. Dips are another delicious dish that are often loaded in less-than-healthy ingredients. Lighten things up by swapping out fat-free greek yogurt for sour cream in most dip recipes.

With a simple healthy recipe swap you can still enjoy the comfort food flavors you love without having to feel guilty.

Tell us in the comments: What healthy comfort food swaps have you tried that you loved?


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