Holiday Food: Swap This for That

The holidays are approaching quickly! This time of year brings colder weather, shorter days, and some our favorite, not-so-healthy foods. It can be hard to stay on track when we’re tempted by warm and hearty soups, gigantic turkey dinners, or those sweet pumpkin treats. When we get together with our friends and family, we revisit old traditions, many of which include preparing and eating these comfort foods together. It would be nearly impossible to give these foods up, even if we wanted to! Fortunately for our tastebuds, Ben Frye, BR Nutritionist with a degree in Nutrition and Food Science, will show us that transforming these tried-and-true recipes into much healthier options is actually easy as pie!



Let’s start with the turkey.

Many of us have it, and have a lot of it, right around the fourth Thursday in November. For those of you who prefer skinless, white meat, you’re in luck! According to Ben, white turkey meat has a lower fat content than dark turkey meat (a 3-ounce serving of dark meat contains an additional 20 calories and 2-3 grams more fat) AND removing the skin from it saves about 15-20 calories and about 3 grams of fat per serving. On the downside, white meat can dry out more easily and may not taste as good. A low calorie gravy might help with that.

Don’t feel like you need to completely cut out those tasty legs, wings, and thighs, though! Ben says dark meat can be a great source of vitamins and minerals, especially if you’re not trying to lose weight. It can actually contain up to 15% daily value of iron in one serving! 



No matter what we eat, we always save room for dessert.

Pies are a staple for this time of year, but they’re often very high in saturated fat and sugars. Switching the ingredients in a yummy pecan pie, Ben shows us how easy it is to make these treats a lot healthier and keep them tasting delicious. 



Ben’s Reasons to Avoid the Original Pecan Pie Recipe:

-519 calories is a lot, especially when taking into consideration that the average for most people (depending on activity level and gender) only need around 1800-2500 per day.

-The American Heart Association recommends that for someone eating 2000 calories per day that no more than 5-6% of those calories comes from saturated fat. That amounts to an allowance of about 11-13 grams of saturated fat per day. Eating just one slice of this pie would amount to 58% of your intake for the entire day!

-The American Heart Association recommends that women should eat no more than 100 calories (26.5 g) of added sugar per day, and men should eat no more than 150 calories (37.5g) of added sugar per day. Just one slice of this pie would more than exceed the recommendation for either.


Traditional winter eggnog with milk, rum and cinnamon, sprinkle with grated nutmeg, selective focus

Don’t forget about the eggnog!

According to Ben, a serving size is only 1/2 cup, which is only 4 fluid ounces. Most people consume way more than this. It’s important to remember to limit yourself because you will already consume 1/4 of your daily limit of saturated fat and close to your entire daily recommended limit of sugar in just 4 fluid ounces of eggnog!



BenBR’s Ben says the combination of social pressures and justifying decisions with the “I only eat like this during the holidays” mentality can easily lead to poor nutritional decision making.  While there should always be room for treats and traditional meals during the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to substitute and modify your favorite holiday dishes to help you achieve your nutritional goals.

This article was written by Katie Bullock and Ben Frye.

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