4 Holiday Staples with Sneaky Health Upsides

4 Holiday Staples with Sneaky Health Upsides

A classic turkey dinner, with all your favourite trimmings, can quickly rack up to over 2,500 calories – more than most people need over 24 hours.

Don’t let that get your holiday tinsel in a tangle though – many winter holiday staples offer sneaky-awesome health benefits, abnormal calorie counts aside.

Enjoy the holidays and don’t give a second thought to looking like Saint Nick after them by eating these surprisingly healthy favourites.

Turkey

The Thanksgiving mascot plays a large role at Christmas dinner tables too. Whether you hog the bird’s white or dark meat, turkey is one of the lowest-calorie protein sources available to us. Skinless turkey breast actually rocks one of the highest protein-to-calorie ratios across all foods, so it’s one of the best meats you can choose health-wise.

healthy christmas turkey dinner

The high-quality protein not only has just 120 calories and 1 gram of fat per 3-ounce serving, but enhances satiety, giving you a better chance to not overeat when dessert rolls in. Most of the calories and fat lie in the turkey’s skin, so if you’re looking to keep your weight in check, remove it before serving.

Cranberries

cranberry sauce healthy choice for christmasCranberries were first introduced to the New World when the Native Americans introduced the pilgrims to the tiny berries in 1621.

That tradition continues to this day, with cranberries close to wherever a turkey dinner can be found. Modern research has confirmed the Native Americans suspicions: that cranberries are uber-good for our health. They reduce the risk of certain infections, maintain the body’s urinary tract, boosts heart health and temper inflammation.

Oh, and they’re also loaded with fiber and vitamin C, while carrying virtually no calories.

Impress your guests this Christmas with this cranberry sauce with port and tangerine recipe!

Brussels Sprouts

We admit it: when we said ‘holiday favourites’, we used the term favorites, very, very loosely.

Case in point – Brussel sprouts. The disease-fighting cruciferous veggies seem to always make a cameo during the holidays, and Christmas is no exception. Cabbage’s cousin is low in calories, but robust in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and protein.

nutritious foods for christmas brussel sprouts

To get the most out of your sprouts, do your best to avoid overcooking them; try roasting or sautéing them instead of boiling or steaming. For roasted Brussel sprouts, add olive and salt, and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese for a clean and simple dish. Or you could opt for the classic side dish: roasted Brussel sprouts with pancetta and balsamic vinegar.

Yum (?).

Mushrooms

While we classify them as veggies, they provide unique nutritional value, as they’re not really veggies – they’re fungi.

mushroom recipe for the holidays

Mushrooms are another low-in-calories staple with other benefits, the fungi’s main upside being vitamin B and trace minerals. Studies have also proven they improve the immunity system, and are one of the few foods that naturally produce vitamin D – that good stuff from the sun we all lack come wintertime.

Related: The Best Post-Holiday Foods for a Healthy Detox

You can’t go wrong with roasted mushrooms, throwing them in your stuffing, or making a rice pilaf. To really impress your guests, stuffed mushroom appetizers are always head-turners at dinner parties!

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