Stay on Santa’s nice list by choosing these healthy options at holiday celebrations:
- Salsa – This super low-calorie snack is packed with lycopene, vitamin A and fiber. Go easy on the chips and use this dip to add a kick to a variety of other foods.
- Shrimp Cocktail – Keep your hunger in check by focusing on high protein foods at parties. Each jumbo shrimp provides 2.5 grams of protein with only 14 calories. Dip shrimp in salsa instead of cocktail sauce to save yourself from empty sugar calories.
- Guacamole – Avocados play the main role in this yummy dip by contributing heart healthy fats. Use this nutritious and calorie-dense food sparingly to add monounsaturated fat and fiber to your holiday diet. A quarter of a cup provides 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 9 grams of fat (but only 1 gram is saturated fat).
- Kabobs – Another easy way to slip in some vegetables and lean protein at holiday parties is through tasty kabobs. Choose kabobs that have grilled low-fat meats like chicken, shrimp and lean beef with lots of vegetables skewered on.
- Sushi – Pull out your chopsticks to snatch some omega-3s. Salmon and tuna sushi options are low in calories (one piece is less than 50 calories, not including rice), high in protein and offer a good dose of vitamin D. Steer clear of the tempura (fried) versions and those loaded with mayonnaise and cream cheese.
- Red Wine – Skip the sugar-loaded cocktails and sip on a glass of red wine. Red wine appears to have more heart healthy benefits than other alcoholic beverages. Resveratrol, a phytochemical found in the skin of red grapes, has a number of beneficial effects, such as reducing inflammation, preventing blood clots and lowering cholesterol. Track your liquid calories by counting each ounce of red wine at 25 calories (typical 5 oz. glass equals 125 calories).
- Vegetables & Dip – It’s always easier to eat your vegetables if someone else has washed and chopped them for you, so take advantage of the vegetable platter when offered at parties. Choose salsa, guacamole and yogurt-based dips or cut down on the calories in
creamy dressings by avoiding the tempting double dip.
- Olives – A super low-calorie party snack that is packed full of heart healthy fats and antioxidants. Each olive provides only 4 calories. The nutrients in olives help fight against cancer, inflammation, coronary artery disease and degenerative nerve diseases.
- Fruit – Satisfy your holiday sweet tooth by loading up on fruit. Fruits are low in fat but high in nutrients and deliciousness. Fruits, though good for us, are still high in sugar so balance out fruit with a lean piece of protein or handful of nuts.
- Mixed Nuts – This crunchy snack is another excellent source for protein, fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated fat. Skip the honey-roasted and sugar-coated varieties and stick to the simpler versions that are low in sugar and salt. Don’t mindlessly munch on this healthy, calorie-dense snack since a quarter of a cup may deliver over 200 calories.
- Soft cheeses – Goat, Brie, Feta, Camembert and Gorgonzola cheeses are slightly lower in fat and calories compared to hard cheeses, like Cheddar or Gruyère, but hard cheeses do offer a bigger dose of bone-building calcium. So plan your cheese choices accordingly while keeping your serving to smaller than the size of four dice.
- Gingerbread Cookies – All cookies are pretty much considered unhealthy options but gingerbread cookies are typically made with less butter. To save a few extra calories and artery-clogging fat, always choose the smallest cookie at the party or the gingerbread variety.
Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.