Holidays are a time for celebrating, which for lots of people includes food and alcohol. The thing is, both of them feed off each other... and, if gone unchecked can give you unwanted results in your mid-section, dipped energy levels, and overall decreased immune health. I am ALL for having a good time, but I also like to be well informed on what some healthier choices are so I can make a conscious choice to either splurge or dial it back. In this way I can pick and choose how to enjoy myself with out derailing my healthy habits right off the tracks.
Here are some healthier holiday drinks and appetizers to keep in the back of your mind as you make your way through the rest of the holiday season.
DRINK A LITTLE DRINK...
The general rule of thumb here is simply awareness. Don't feel you have to deprive yourself of some of your favorite holiday drinks; instead by simply drawing some awareness you can enjoy one of your favorites, and then consciously decide you may want to switch to a lower sugar or lower calorie option. It's all up to you. Here are some options:
- 4 oz. of grapefruit juice
- 1½ oz. of cranberry juice
- 1 oz. of vodka will mix up your regular drink and is only 180 calories.
- Instead of the same old vodka with cranberry juice, try a zesty sea breeze and mix up your regular drink routine (roughly 180 calories). Always read the label when purchasing fruit juice. Often juice, like cranberry juice, found in most bars, contains very little juice and is mostly sugar. Opt for fresh-squeezed or 100% fruit juice options to reduce added sugars or blend whole fruit for fiber, vitamins and minerals! Diluting with water, club soda and ice will also help reduce the amount of juice used.
Bloody Mary with a Full Garden
- Splash of your favorite unflavored vodka
- vegetable juice/ tomato juice (read the label to choose low sodium and low calorie choices)
- dash of Worcestershire sauce
- hot sauce
- horseradish (if you like it with some kick)
- pepper and salt optional
- This is a Sunday morning favorite, and is a low calorie choice! Try a full garden with lots of added vegetables like green beans, celery, cilantro, peppers, cherry tomatoes, baby asparagus, olives and artichoke hearts. Extra vegetables not only provide vitamins and minerals, but the fiber will fill you up and may slow how fast you finish your drink.
A bit of wine is actually pretty good for you....to my relief! haha. Red wine packs in a ton of nutritional value: it contains 4-9% of your DRI of iron, 9.4% for potassium, and 5% of magnesium, as well as being filled with antioxidants, which can reduce blood clots and lower bad cholesterol. Calories tend to range from about 110 to 130 for a five ounce glass, which isn't too shabby at all.
When it comes to beer, Guinness is your best bet if you are trying to make a healthier choice. It even used to have a slogan: "Guinness is good for you!" Well, it really kinda is. First off, despite how thick it is, it's way lower in calories than you think—128 calories per 12 ounces. Not bad at all. Because it's made from more whole grains than lager, it's full of nutrients. In fact, it's been shown to have similar antioxidant properties to red wine. Drink on my friends!
A classic drink for celebrations, and only 85 calories for 5 oz. This fizzy drink is usually a holiday staple, and a delicious one too.You can even add a tsp of fresh jam, or fresh fruit, such as blackberries or strawberries, to give it a healthy infusion. Be careful to not drink the whole bottle because you could easily take in a sneaky 500+ calories... see what I mean about portion control! So, are you thirsty yet!?
NOM NOM NOM... IT'S APPETIZER TIME
With food, the same applies to drinks... simply be aware. If you aren't hungry there is no need to load your plate with finger food so you have something to do with your hands. You can simply nurse a low calorie drink, mock-tail, or even water. When you do reach for the goodies help yourself to your favorites (in small portions) and be aware that soft cheeses and mini quiche, (or anything mini for that matter) will still pack on unwanted pounds if you mindlessly eat 20 of them. Below are some healthier options, as well as a recipe to try:
- Fresh fruit and veggies with dip. I know it seems obvious, but if you are in charge of bringing something to a party, why not bring something healthy you can snack on.
- Cold Shrimp cocktail or Seafood Ceviche. Drizzle this with some fresh lemon and you are off to a fresh, protein-packed start.
- Bruschetta on toast. Especially if it is fresh, this can be a good option to reach for as well.
- Raw Nuts. Full of protein to take the edge off your hunger before a big meal. Try keep it to a small, handful-sized portion.
APPETIZER RECIPE FOR YOU TO TRY:
Edamame and Pear Crostini
16-ounce bag frozen shelled edamame
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 baguette, cut into 30 slices
1 Bartlett pear, diced
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Boil the edamame in salted water for 10 minutes. Remove beans with a slotted spoon and place in ice water for a couple minutes to cool, then drain.
- Set aside 1/4 cup of the whole edamame and place the remaining edamame in a food processor; process until coarsely chopped.
- In a separate bowl, combine the mashed edamame with the whole edamame, three tablespoons olive oil, chopped mint, Romano cheese, salt, and pepper.
- Thinly slice the baguette into 30 slices and brush each piece lightly using one tablespoon olive oil. Bake for eight minutes.
- Remove from the oven, top each crostini with one tablespoon of the edamame mixture, garnish with chopped pears, and enjoy.
I hope this gives you some great ideas of where you may, or may not, want to scale up or back at your celebrations this year.
May your holidays be merry and bright!