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10 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps for a Happy Gut

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and food. Sometimes, a little too much of all them…especially the food! While getting your grub on comes with the territory during the holiday season, it makes meeting your 2021 wellness goals a bit more challenging. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite holiday traditions. You might just have to amend them a little. Here are ten healthy holiday food swaps that are gut-friendly and delicious!
 
Going hard on food this holiday season? You and us all. You have to take these little losses with little victories. Finding the balance between comfort food and that makes your digestive system comfortable is key. Here are 10 ways to transform your holidays into a healthy one this season.
 
5 healthy holiday food swaps

 

Mashed Potatoes ➡️ Cauliflower Mash

 
Besides the turkey itself, perhaps no other food is more synonymous with Thanksgiving than mashed potatoes. This side dish is the ultimate comfort food that turns super uncomfortable after its third serving. 
 
White potatoes are exceptionally high in simple starches. They are laden with empty calories that our body burns off quickly. In turn, we’re hungry again. That’s why you have no problems going back for seconds and thirds. 
 
Cauliflower is a resistant starch. Your body burns it slower, which helps you feel fuller longer. 
 
Plus, one cup of this gut-friendly food provides you with 10% of your daily recommended intake of dietary fiber. Not only does dietary fiber help us flush out toxins, but it also provides food for your probiotic bacteria!
 
Now, if cauliflower mash isn’t your jam, we can still improve the nutrients of your old fashioned mashed potatoes. For one, leave the skin on. 
 
Potato skin has more fiber and is an excellent source of potassium. You can also try substituting red or purple potatoes instead of using white to up your antioxidant intake! 

 

Turkey Gravy ➡️ Mushroom “Gravy”

 
Mashed potatoes and gravy go together like peanut butter and jelly. As much as we love a good PB&J, there are certainly healthier options out there. The same goes for our dear friend gravy.
 
Gravy is a guilty pleasure that many of us love to partake in during the holidays. It’s fine in moderation, but there are still tons of unhealthy fats in this savory condiment. 
 
Try making a vegan gravy to either replace or supplement your turkey gravy. Mushrooms are an excellent plant-based gravy swap because they provide the texture and color we’re used to with this Thanksgiving staple. 
 
Saute 16 ounces of mushrooms with 1/4 of a cup of grass-fed butter for about 20 minutes. Add in 1/4 of a cup of unbleached flour, stirring for five minutes. Last, add a cup of stock. Add herbs and spices to taste and simmer for a half-hour. 
 
To up the antiviral benefits, we suggest using shiitake mushrooms. They are rich in beta-glucans that prop up the immune system and fight off pathogenic growth. 

 

Green Beans ➡️ Green Beans Almondine

 
Green beans are an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, and silicon. These are all essential for a healthy system. Unfortunately, all of these benefits get hidden in green bean casseroles because they get smothered with heavy cream and fried onions. 
 
A green bean dish is essential for almost any holiday table. Get the same crispy-yet-juicy texture you love from baked green beans from the stovetop with green bean almondine.
 
This dish sautees green beans with almonds. Almonds are teeming with proteins that are essential for repairing cells around our gut lining. These nuts are also an excellent source of healthy fats that naturally lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. 

 

Apple Pie ➡️ Baked Apples and Applesauce

 
Nothing screams fall tradition like freshly picked apples. Excessive amounts of apples mean one thing — apple pie. Apple pie is excellent to share with the whole family on Thanksgiving. However, 2020 might see a smaller set up around the table. This year might be the one to cut down on the sweets. However, that doesn’t mean you have to have an appleless holiday. Instead of baking apples in a pie, have these fruits fly solo!
 
Core the apples and fill them with grass-fed butter, maple syrup, or honey. Add some pecans or cinnamon sticks inside, and roast these treats up to an hour. 
 
Still sitting on some excess apples? Peel them up and make some applesauce. Simply melt some apples with a touch of water or apple cider vinegar on the stovetop. Stir often to avoid burning!
 
Before you toss out those apple peels, consider saving them. Apple pies are rich in fiber that feed healthy bacteria. Toss the peels in baked goods or pancakes. You can even dehydrate apple peels for a crispy snack or compost to make excellent soil for springtime!
 

Zoodles ➡️ Noodles

 
Mac and cheese is a must for many Thanksgiving tables. This creamy treat is full of fat, gluten, processed ingredients, and a lot of guilt. 
 
First, switch out your noodle source. White pasta is stripped of its nutrition. Instead, you’re left with a starch teeming with gluten. Gluten prompts our bodies to produce a protein known as zonulin. Zonulin regulates the movements our small intestine makes, which can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or leaky gut.
 
Instead, make pasta out of zucchini, carrot, or spaghetti squash. Not only are these healthier choices, but they have a ton more flavor than boxed pasta.
 
Also, reconsider the cheese. Try to use cheese made with dairy that is free of hormones and antibiotics. You can also try making your own cheese sauce with plant milk. 
 
Combine two cups of almond milk, two cups of unbleached all-purpose flour, and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pot. Whisk vigorously for a couple of minutes on medium-high heat for a creamy topping for your healthy pasta.
 

healthy holiday swaps 5 through 10

 

Candied Yams ➡️ Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 
Right out the gate (or oven), the word “candied” should set off a red flag. Candied yams aren’t even a side dish. They’re a dessert dressed up as a part of the main course. 
 
You can still get the sweetness you love out of candied yams with regular sweet potatoes. They even have the word “sweet” in the name.
 
Sweet potatoes are a gut-healing powerhouse. They are chock full of antioxidants that help fight off inflammation. Plus, they are a significant source of resistant starch that helps feed probiotic bacteria and makes us feel satiated longer. 

 

Eggnog ➡️ Cinnamon Tea and Golden Milk Latte

 
Eggnog is an excellent way for kids and adults alike to partake in holiday traditions. As we keep saying, everything is fine in moderation. However, eggnog is rich in unhealthy fats that can linger into the next calendar year. 
 
Literally cut the fat with cinnamon tea. Cinnamon contains an aromatic chemical (terpene) known as cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde influences thermogenic processes. That means cinnamon heats things up. This reaction makes cinnamon an excellent fat-burner…and organic lip plumper!
 
If tea isn’t your thing, consider a golden milk latte. This beverage has a thicker consistency that is similar to eggnog. However, it comes with far more benefits.
 
A golden milk latte is made with turmeric powder. Turmeric contains unique compounds known as curcuminoids. Curcuminoids help fight inflammation while improving blood circulation.

 

Hot Chocolate ➡️ Homemade Hot Cocoa

 
Nothing beats sitting around a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa. Unfortunately, store-bought mixes are teeming with refined sugars that will have the kids waiting up for reindeer all night long! Instead of using packaged hot chocolate, make it from scratch. 
 
Melt unsweetened chocolate on the stovetop. Once melted, add in the goodies. Use natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup, vanilla extract, or food-grade peppermint essential oils, to help give this holiday treat a little more flavor!

 

Alcohol ➡️ Kombucha

 
The holidays come with a lot of parties. That means a lot of cocktails, especially if you’re not keen on your in-laws! Unfortunately, the holiday hangover can continue long after you put down the bottle. Too much alcohol can destroy healthy stomach bacteria, leaving the body prone to pathogens.
 
A light alcoholic beverage that will boost your gut health is kombucha. This beverage ferments yeast in a tea. Yeast feasts on carbohydrates in the tea, enriching the brew with probiotic bacteria and digestive enzymes.
 
The fermentation process naturally produces alcohol. So, kombucha might not be suitable for all ages.

 

Holiday Cookies ➡️ Coconut Macaroons

 
The holidays bring a surplus of cookies that pack on unwanted pounds. You can still have a sweet tooth and snack responsibly this holiday season. Swap out your go-tos for savory coconut macaroons.
 
These creamy treats have far fewer calories than most baked goods. Plus, they contain a suitable amount of fiber to help detoxify the body post-holidays.
 
Coconuts are rich in healthy fats. We keep putting down fats, but our body does need them. It uses healthy fats to help repair our gut lining and improve nutrient absorption. 

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