Healthy Holiday Food

Caroline Davis, Copy Editor

During the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in good times with good people and good food. To avoid the after-eating regret and the need for a post-meal nap, healthier festive options could make eating over the holidays not only delicious but nutritious. 

First, who doesn’t love dessert after holiday meals? It’s easy to switch up baked good recipes to incorporate healthier alternatives. Choose recipes that use bananas instead of eggs, add almonds, or use honey or coconut sugar instead of regular sugar. This also adds interesting and different tastes to regular baked goods. 

One example is gingerbread cookies. These usually feature unhealthy ingredients like sugar and butter. Simple substitutions include swapping coconut oil for butter, coconut sugar for brown sugar and whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose flour. All of those ingredients are becoming more mainstream now as their health benefits become more apparent. 

Minnetonka student Ravelle Rute, ‘22, said, “My family loves baking around the holidays, but my parents have been trying new diets to eat healthier. Baking substitutions are an easy way we enjoy desserts without compromising health.”

Second, a delicious and underrated food already incorporated into many holiday recipes is sweet potatoes. The sweet potato is a superfood that offers fiber, vitamins A and C and antioxidants. My family enjoys sweet potatoes by cooking them in the oven (like a regular baked potato), then smothering them in butter, marshmallows, and brown sugar. This recipe adds a lot of sugar and unhealthy fat on top, but the needed nutrients are still hidden underneath. The healthiest way to cook sweet potatoes is to boil them. Other recipes that use sweet potatoes are sweet potato casserole and spiced sweet potato, or they can be paired with other vegetables like kale and peas. 

Finally, holiday coffees are a delicious treat that all coffee lovers look forward to during the holiday season. However, festive treats topped with whipped cream and sugars can be really bad for one’s health. 

Nutritionist Erin Palinski- Wade said, “When choosing a beverage, opt for nonfat milk and hold the whipped cream to shave 130 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving (grande).”  

The American Heart Association recommends consuming a total of 25 grams of sugar a day for women and 50 grams for men. To put this in perspective, The grande Caramel Brulee Latte from Starbucks has 450 calories, 70 grams of carbohydrates and 47 grams of sugar. 

Tea is also a great alternative, it has significantly less sugar and no heavy cream. Popular coffee shops such as Starbucks or Caribou Coffee offer equally as festive holiday teas like peppermint or winter Chai.