Half the enjoyment of the holidays can be found in the food. The table is stacked with traditional dishes that make the tastebuds sing and the mouth water. The downside of the holiday buffet, however, is it’s not exactly healthy. Casseroles are filled with cheese, cream, sugar, and other ingredients intended to taste good but clog the arteries.
With the global pandemic at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year, people are focusing on their health a lot more this holiday season. Instead of indulging in the green bean casserole or candied yams this year, add the below holiday foods to your menu to promote a healthy immune system and create some new holiday favorites.
1. Hummus dip
Replace the cream cheese ball and cheese dip this year with a tasty hummus dip. You can find this protein-packed dip in a variety of flavors from roasted garlic and red pepper to basil pesto and many more. Not only is hummus dip flavorful and versatile, but a 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients also found people who regularly consume chickpeas or hummus have higher intakes of fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, and several key vitamins. The study also notes that hummus is an excellent way for people to consume the recommended amount of legumes they need each week.
2. Roasted sweet potatoes
Candied yams are undoubtedly delicious with their mix of brown sugar and butter often topped by marshmallows. However, there’s a whole lot of sugar in them that completely counteracts the health benefits of the yams. For a more nutritious alternative to this holiday favorite, go with simple roasted sweet potatoes. With just a bit of olive oil and light seasoning, you’ll get all of the health benefits of sweet potatoes and none of the unnecessary added sugar. What a lot of people don’t realize is that orange sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta-carotene. When you consume beta-carotene, your body converts this into Vitamin A, which is critical to maintaining a healthy immune system.
3. Roasted cabbage steaks
Roasted cabbage is an easy side dish that is delicious and nutritious. Sprinkle a few different seasonings on top of the cabbage steaks and then bake in the oven for an easy, tasty dish. One of the best parts about cabbage is it is low in calories but high in nutrients. Magnesium, potassium, Vitamins K, C, and B6 can all be found in this healthy green food. Vitamin C is also vital for a healthy immune system, so your body is sure to thank you for adding this dish to your holiday menu.
4. Stuffed Baked Apples
It’s hard to avoid dessert entirely during the holiday season, so add a healthy alternative to the list. Stuffed baked apples are a delicious option that will satisfy your craving for something sweet while providing your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. The key to choosing a baked apple recipe is finding one with a natural sweetener, such as honey, and looking for filling options that add to the nutrient profile. For example, a pecan-stuffed apple provides a wonderful nutty flavor as well as Vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc, which all support immune function. Apples themselves are also known to benefit the immune system since they’re another source of Vitamin C.
According to the CDC, nine out of every 10 Americans fail to consume the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables on a regular basis. When putting together your holiday menu this year, stick to whole fruits and vegetables and stay away from any added sugars, creams, or other processed ingredients. Choose to support a healthy immune system this holiday season and incorporate dishes that will truly benefit your body and health.
Roasted Cabbage Steak from EatSomethingVegan.com
Stuffed Baked Apples from PrepareAndNourish.com