Holiday Goodies that Are Naturally Healthy

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by Katrina Pfannkuch

Every passing holiday season we are tempted with foods we try to avoid if we want to keep overindulgence and weight gain in check. And let’s face it, the sheer number of holiday events between late October though the end of the year sets us up with lots of opportunities to feel bad about ourselves and what we are eating, instead of enjoying the social aspects of what the holidays offer.

So instead of spending all that time lamenting on what you can’t eat because of such and such reason, focus on some tasty holiday treats that you might not even realize are actually really good for you in small amounts.

The following holiday goodies have some hidden health benefits that you might not even realize. Try using small amounts of raw sugar or natural sweetener alternatives, including Xylitol or Stevia to cut the calories when preparing some of these traditional holiday dishes.

Applesauce and Apples

Heart-healthy fiber does keep the doctor away! Look for unsweetened applesauce to get the fiber without the sugar, and use apples with the skin left on to get a potent flavonoid called quercitin, which helps prevent heart disease.

Cheese

Hard cheeses pack the most bone-building calcium and protein punch, so look around the appetizer table for this tasty option among the crackers and spreadable cheeses.

Cranberry Sauce (Unsweetened)

Cranberry sauce is a tasty unsweetened or low sugar treat, and the cranberries help manage urinary tract infections. Add a minimal amount of sugar or natural sweetener to cut the harshness of the cranberries and lightly sweeten this healthy treat.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is a holiday focus from Halloween through Valentine’s Day, so feel good about indulging a little with some dark chocolate. Seventy percent dark chocolate contains the most flavonols, a helpful plant substance that helps decrease cholesterol, and tastes delicious with fruit.

Green Beans

Naturally low in calories, string beans are loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect bones, and is also a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Try beans lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon and bypass the heavy sauces to keep calories low without cutting out flavor.

Nuts

Unsweetened nuts are chock-full of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, even more if sprinkled in cinnamon. Sugar-coated nuts are also a good option in place of a high calorie dessert.

Pumpkin Pie

This rich orange vegetable contains carotenoids for making vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium and fiber. Most pies are loaded with sugar, so eat small portions. When making a pumpkin pie, use a small amount of natural sugar or a sweetener alternative to create a more low-calorie version.

Yams/Sweet Potatoes

Yams offer carotenoids, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, but skip the candied yams dish. Just bake sweet potatoes with a bit of brown sugar, or natural sweetener alternative, for the taste without the calories.

As with everything in life, how you choose to look at or “demonize” food is the biggest obstacle in holiday eating challenges. Thinking you need to deprive yourself or not indulge at all leads to resentment, so choose what to splurge on rather than mindlessly nibbling on whatever happens to be on the buffet table. And yes, it’s OK to splurge every once and a while! Information from this article was sourced from: {www.webmd.com](http://www.webmd.com)

Katrina is a writer, Reiki Master, and owner of Buzzword Communications. She loves working with clients who focus on health and wellness or green business, helping them create content that showcases their unique passion and vision. www.buzzwordonline.com