Rich, decadent, calorie-laden foods go hand-in-hand with the holidays, but by choosing better-for-you snacks and swapping ingredients in some of your favorite recipes, you can keep the pounds from creeping up as you celebrate this season.
You can satisfy your cravings and stay full by consuming high-quality, protein-rich foods with fewer calories and lower saturated fat. Exchanging sugary treats and unhealthy ingredients for flavorful, more nutritious options will let you still enjoy your holiday treats without the guilt (or added weight) when the festivities have passed.
Follow these tips from the dietitians at the Soyfoods Association of North America to keep on track for healthier, happier holidays this year.
Plan ahead before you hit the party buffet table by eating a protein and fiber-rich light meal or snack beforehand. A glass of soymilk will help fill you up and offers 7 grams of protein.
Limit your alcohol and intake of sweetened drinks, and flush your system with water.
In place of candy and sweets, keep healthy nibbles on hand, such as fruits, nuts and steamed or dried edamame. Individual packages of these nutritious snacking options also make excellent stocking stuffers.
For sweet, rich, baked goods such as cookies, soft-yeast breads and quick breads, swap some of the traditional flour with soy flour, which will substitute well for up to 30 percent of the wheat or rye flour. Just remember that soy-rich dough browns faster, so replacing more than 40 percent of other flours with soy flour is not recommended.
Modify your favorite recipes to reduce saturated fat, sugar and salt. Vegetable oil, cinnamon or nutmeg and herbs and spices deliver mouth-pleasing flavors that let you trim the less healthy alternatives. For example, tofu is so versatile you can use it as ricotta in lasagna, cream in pumpkin soup or in chocolate pudding. This extra indulgent, better-for-you chocolate soy dessert contains only 160 calories, allowing you to contemplate a second serving.
Soy-Silken Dark Chocolate Pudding
Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
1 package (12.3 ounces) silken tofu, drained
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
First, place tofu, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and vanilla in a food processor. Puree for one minute, scraping down sides as needed, or until very smooth. Divide equally into six dishes and top with whipped topping before serving, if desired.
You can adapt this recipe with your favorite treat combinations, such as layering the pudding with fresh raspberries or banana slices, then finishing with whipped topping and caramel sauce. For a fun Mexican-style twist, stir a pinch of ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper into pudding, and then top with whipped topping and chocolate shavings.
Nutritional analysis per serving (1/3 cup): 160 calories, 6 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium.
Whipped topping (optional)
For more recipes and ideas to help you stay on track, visit www.soyfoods.org.