Clever Healthy Holiday Recipe Ingredient Substitutions You’ll Love

Clever Healthy Holiday Recipe Ingredient Substitutions You’ll Love

Gearing up for the holiday season? We’ve just bid farewell to Thanksgiving and now there’s the prospect of preparing the Christmas meal for the family. If you have other relatives and friends coming over, plus invitations to other holiday gatherings, you’ll expect to go through a parade of feasts that will no doubt throw your health and fitness up in the air this season. How did you feel once you got to January last year? I know I felt depressed and in a way, hopeless. How do we get through this and enjoy the holidays without losing all of the work that we have put in during the rest of the year?

Not to worry – there are ways to reduce the impact of the holiday meals on you and your family’s weight and overall fitness without having to deprive yourselves of delicious food. One of these strategies involves using healthier ingredients as substitutes to the usual ones added to your favorite holiday recipes. Let’s go over a few of them right now.

Holiday Recipe



“Oh no… Carbs!”

Well, that could be said in delight or in horror. If your reaction is the second one, make your favorite noodle-based food less sinful by using whole-wheat pasta instead of regular noodles. You can also use Shirataki noodles, which are made from a particular kind of yam and are also chewy and low-calorie, instead of macaroni for the mac n’ cheese. Or, you can experiment with spaghetti squash and turn that into a delicious spaghetti dish.

For ravioli, try putting your cream cheese filling in between two thin slices of beets marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. For lasagna, use eggplant or zucchini instead of pork or beef and lay them in between thick layers of cheese and freshly made tomato sauce.

Meat-Based Food

Pork, beef, and even chicken can be switched with veggies or seafood to make your meaty recipes less calorific or heavy on the tummy but still just as delicious. Instead of steaks, how about grilling a luscious piece of salmon and smothering it in sweet chili or zesty lemon sauce?  For the veggies, buy some fresh asparagus, put it in a pan, and use coconut oil to fry it instead of butter to keep it healthy and delicious.


Soups, Cream, Dips, and Sauces

Go for fat-free, low-fat, evaporated skim milk, or coconut milk when making that pumpkin stew or chowder – and even your cream sauces. You can also thicken your soup with pureed tofu, carrots, or potatoes instead of milk.

Also, opt to make your own sauces instead of buying canned ones that you just season to taste. The grocery-bought types tend to have a lot of sodium – which makes you bloat and feel less like your fit self.

For cheese dips or toppings, use nutritional yeast instead. It has this surprisingly cheesy flavor and a nutty quality that mimics the taste of real cheese. Or, you can use less the cheese needed for a dish and mix in nutritional yeast to cut down the sodium and calories.


Is there a “healthy” dessert?  Well, it all depends on how you look at it (actually how you PREPARE it, I guess).  So how about making some chocolate chip cookies?  Lessen the guilt by using cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips and whole-wheat flour or nut flour instead of the plain all-purpose type. You can also reduce the butter into half and substitute the other half with prune puree or unsweetened applesauce, which are two of the best healthy substitutes for oil or shortening.

For sugar, you can use just use half of the portion needed and add nutmeg, vanilla, or cinnamon to give your desserts that nice sweet flavor without the extra calories.

At first glance, you may think that this isn’t for you. You’re probably thinking that it’s “too much work” or “It won’t taste good,” but before you write it off, give it a try! There are many more recipes just like these online, so do a little bit of searching and find something that you think sounds great and keeps the calories off!

If you want to get more suggestions on recipes, workouts, and staying sane in a house full of kiddos, join our community at! If you want to get in shape but don’t even know where to start, check out our free workout and nutrition program on Facebook!

Kami Miller is a writer, health enthusiast, and Leader Mom in the community.  Busy Mom’s Bootcamp is a movement committed to helping moms get their health back on track at home with a daily workout and meal plan, as well as a mom community cheering them on.  Kami received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Cedarville University and lives in Hartville, Ohio with her husband Brad and her little boy who is on the way!

All pictures are courtesy of

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