This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.Thanks for inspiring me to write this post about easy swaps you can make to have a healthier holiday! What is your favorite food do you like to indulge on during the holidays? Many of us tend to overeat at those massive holiday meals, right? I love to load up on the mashed potatoes and gravy and family favorite dessert recipes. But since I am making an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, I have found several easy swaps you can make to have a healthier holiday!
- Alcohol: Many people like to have a drink or two at the holidays. There is no problem with that BUT, they can be loaded with calories and sugar. Consider having a light beer, a wine spritzer or a diet soda in your favorite cocktail.
- Appetizers: I tend to full up with appetizers before the meal is served. But then I feel obligated to eat full meal as well. If you are serving appetizers, bulk up on vegetables and a low calorie dip. If you serve potato skins for example, serve sweet potatoes and use turkey bacon and low calories sour cream.
- Salt: Heart disease runs in my family, so I watch my salt intake. Instead of using salt to flavor your foods, use fresh herbs.
- Family Involvement: I love to have the kids in the kitchen when I am cooking. One of the reasons I want to do this is to make sure they have input in the food we prepare and cook. I want their opinions and preferences for the meals we serve in our home. This also fosters independence in them for their transition into adulthood!
- Side Dishes: One of my favorite holiday side dishes is mashed potatoes! These can have a lot of calories. We have lighted up this family favorite with several swaps. We add cauliflower, low fat sour cream and light butter. I also skip the gravy to save on added calories. For your stuffing, make your own. The boxed stuffing mixes have more calories that you don’t need. Instead of serving green bean casserole, just serve lightly sauteed green beans.
- Turkey: There are added calories in the dark meat of the turkey. We serve a turkey breast instead, which is a healthier option. If you are serving gravy, make a homemade version that is another easy swap you can make to have a healthier holiday.
Dessert: Ahhhh. I love dessert! One of our favorites is apple pie and cheesecake. I created a lighter version which is a combination of the two. I use an apple pie flavored yogurt instead of cheesecake. I also use granulated sugar substitute instead of traditional sugar when I make the apple mixture. It is so tasty! And by using a mini pie crust, you aren’t tempted to take that extra big slice!
My parents divorced when I was 8. I was raised in a single parent home for most of my childhood. Mom struggled to make ends meet. We didn’t always have food on the table. We had food stamps, but they didn’t always stretch for the entire month. Fresh produce was not always something we had access to. I remember how stressful the holidays were for my mom. She was always so sad. She didn’t have the money to buy us gifts or to serve the big holiday meal we grew up enjoying.
I want my kids to know how blessed they are to not know what it is like to be hungry. I also want them to know a healthier lifestyle is a solid choice to make as they get older. This is why I have such a heart for the 4-H Food Smart Families program. There are almost 16 million kids who live as my sister and I did, where food was not something they always have consistent access to. The program targets families who are receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and/or WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) benefits.
The 4-H Food Smart Families program teaches these families how to plan, shop and prepare healthy meals on a budget. I wish there had been a program like this when my sister and I were growing up. Since 2011, UnitedHealthcare and 4-H have partnered together in an effort to offer a way to empower families like my mom and sister and I. They have delivered healthy living programs to more than 340,000 youth and their families in 14 states. Isn’t that wonderful?!
The 4-H Food Smart Families program offers these families nutrition education, cooking skills and food budgeting skills. The families are also connected with nutrition assistance programs within their community. This way they can learn to make healthy living part of their everyday lives. Although the program is only in 14 states currently, the end goal is to have the program in every county across America. I encourage you to visit the 4-H Food Smart Families. There you can learn more about the program, 4-H, how to donate and more. Be sure to stay connected with 4-H on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Do you have tips to easy swaps you can make to have a healthier holiday? Do you have a personal connection to 4-H? I would love to hear!