Healthy Substitutes to Make Your Favorite Holiday Treats

Bowl of mashed cauliflower

There is a lot of focus on food during the holiday season. Eating socially at parties, grabbing a drink with a friend, or making your grandmother’s favorite pie recipe can all lead to eating more than usual. However, there are plenty of healthy substitutions you can employ to stay on track with your health and wellness over the holidays. Shaving off calories, fat and sugar when possible can help you enjoy your favorite holiday treats while eating in moderation.

Try These Healthy Holiday Substitutes

Don’t Drink Your Calories

Calories in alcohol, blended coffee drinks and shakes can all add up quickly. Sweetened coffee drinks alone easily add up to 300-500 additional calories. Instead of purchasing store-bought drinks and restaurant beverages, consider making your own! Quick, healthy alternatives such as sugar substitutes and sugar-free syrups can help you cut back on calories without sacrificing flavor and festiveness.

Healthy Homemade Peppermint Mocha

Source: simple-nourished-living.com


  • Brew two cups of your regular coffee and set them aside.
  • Combine the two cups of coffee with three tablespoons of dried non-fat milk, two tablespoons of dark cocoa powder, and 10 drops of sugar-free peppermint flavor in a blender.
  • Blend until smooth.

Cut the Carbs

Lots of people prefer to follow a low-carb diet. If this is the case, you may be looking for ways to cut back on carbs in holiday dishes. One of the most popular holiday carbs is potatoes. Instead of making a standard mashed potato side dish, consider cauliflower or even sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index. In place of noodles, consider using zucchini noodles (zoodles) or butternut squash noodles.

“Mock” Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Source: thefoodnetwork.com


  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. straight chicken base or bullion
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh or dry chives, for garnish
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter


  • Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.
  • Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about six minutes, or until well-done. Drain well; do not let cool and pat cooked cauliflower very dry between several layers of paper towels.
  • In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, and pepper until smooth.
  • Garnish with chives and serve hot with pats of butter.

Pack the Nutrition

Instead of focusing on ingredient substitutions, you can also switch your focus to adding other foods in. Add in more vegetables, fruits and whole grains to maximize the nutrition of your holiday dishes. Nutrient-dense foods like these fill you up, keep you satisfied and leave little room for “extras.”

Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans

Source: EatingWell.com 


  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
  • 5 Tbsp.  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsps. Ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 6 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 large glove garlic, grated
  • 1 lb. kale, stemmed and torn
  • 1 (15 oz.) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pepitas, toasted


  • Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425°F.
  • Toss sweet potato with 1 Tbsp. oil, chili powder and 1/8 tsp. salt on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss shallots with 1 Tbsp. oil and 1/8 tsp. salt on another large rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables, flipping once, until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic with the remaining 3 Tbsp. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Add kale and massage with the dressing until bright green and shiny and the volume is reduced by about half. Add beans, quinoa, feta, pepitas and the shallots. Toss to combine and serve topped with the sweet potato.


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