Bivins: Eating healthy this holiday is easy as 1, 2, 3

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When it comes to the holiday season, eating healthy and clean can be a challenge when surrounded by sweet and creamy foods. We all say that we will “be good this year” and make sure to “only eat one cookie” at the party, but truth be told it is very hard to follow through. By making the effort to replace certain ingredients in your recipes and think outside the box when creating the menu, the holiday weight that we all dread can easily stay away.

Here are a few favorite tips for cooking this holiday season:

•When it comes to casseroles, check out recipes that include acorn squash or spaghetti squash, carrot and sweet potato. These foods can provide a new and fun pop of color to the holiday table and stand in for the carb-loaded stuffing and rich creamy white potatoes. Bivins said to add sweet potatoes to the menu. They are grown locally, loaded with vitamins, can be cooked in variety of ways and are abundant this year.

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•Don’t give up those sweet treats that you love so much. With a few easy cutbacks and substitutions you can help yourself to anything you want. Start by changing your usual flour and cereals for those with a whole grain base, and use fat-free milk, coconut or almond milk in place of whole milk and save more than 60 calories.

•One tip that we can all use will help reduce fat intake. Replace half the amount of butter or shortening listed in the recipe with unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana. You can secretly slip in something healthy for those enjoying the treats. Same thing goes for sugars. Cut back on one-third of the sugar needed in the recipe and use maple syrup or spices (cinnamon, allspice, cloves or nutmeg, etc.) to make up for the lost sweetness.

•An easy way to stick to the goal of eating healthy this holiday season is continuing the theme of red and green fruits and veggies.

•One of my favorite resources to stay healthy in creative and delicious ways is : Alice Henneman, who is an Extension educator from the midwest and her perfectly organized Pinterest ( profile that always provides new inspiration.

This holiday season doesn’t have to be like every other year, you can stay healthy and still enjoy sweet and savory foods with friends and family. Whether its appetizers, the main course or dessert, there are plenty of delicious and beneficial substitutions.