Recipes

Healthy meals around the holidays: treats with (surprise!) low sugar

Heading to a family get-together, work potluck, or another holiday party? If you’re worried about sticking to your healthy meal plan and/or weight loss goals, offering to bring a dish is the easiest way to take control.

In this article, we’ll share tips for choosing treats and desserts that are relatively healthy so you can stay on track with your healthy eating even when you go out. We’ll even include some of our favourite Healthy Mummy recipes you can add to your list of holiday recipes.

Jump ahead to read more:

Strawberry Santas

Why it’s important to stay on track with your healthy eating

Here at the Healthy Mummy, we’re advocates for making long-term lifestyle changes, not following diets. So while it can be so tempting to eat all those sugar holiday foods, sticking to healthy meals over Christmas is super important.

And even though we believe it’s totally okay to treat yourself occasionally, it’s also important to stick to the changes you’ve decided on. Because your body deserves to feel healthy and amazing – even over the holidays when so many people let their health slide.

Why it’s so hard to stay on track

So, why is it such a test of willpower to keep eating healthy during the holiday period? It’s not just about the temptations all around you. We’ve all experienced this peer pressure and the need to eat (and drink) socially.

Here’s a scenario you’ve probably dealt with before…

You want to try the decadent brownies Sue brought along to the work party… she’s insisting… but what do you say? You don’t want to make others feel like their choices are somehow not good enough for you (awkward!) and you don’t want to eat the brownies because you’re trying to be good.

What do you do?

How to stay on track at events

We’ve all been there before and in our experience, the easiest approach to stick to your healthy meal plan is if you:

  • Eat healthy food before you go out to an event – “Oh, thanks Sue, but I’ve just eaten and I couldn’t possibly fit in another bite!”
  • Distract them with your own plate of food – “Ooh Sue, they look amazing. What’s in them? Here’s the food I brought… it’s healthy AND good for you! You should try some!”
  • Just be honest – “Sue, they look so delicious but I’m trying to be good! I’ve signed up to the Healthy Mummy and don’t want to derail all my hard work over the last few months!”
  • Offer to share your food and recipe – “Want to try one of my brownies and see how they compare? Bet you can’t guess my secret ingredient! I can give you the recipe if you like them!”
  • Make light of it – “Haha no thanks, Sue, but at least there’ll be more for the others!”

Finally, a bonus tip: bring your own water. Because drinking the soft drink on offer will give you all calories, no goodness. Read more about reducing your soft drink intake.

Tricks and swaps to make your favourite treats healthier

Just because you’re sticking to healthy meals and snacks this holiday season, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. In fact, you can probably make a few tweaks and swaps to some of your favourite recipes to make them less sugary, more nutritious, and more filling. Depending on the meal or snack, here’s what you might try:

  • Instead of sugar, see if you can add fruit like mashed banana or applesauce to sweeten the flavour
  • Instead of heavier ingredients like cream, go with lighter ingredients like Greek yogurt
  • Swap refined white flour for wholemeal flour or almond meal
  • Spread healthier fats like avocado on your crackers or sandwich instead of butter, cheese, or mayo
  • Swap white bread for wholemeal bread
  • Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate
  • Use extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter
  • Instead of chips, put out roasted nuts to snack on
  • Swap full cream milk for skim milk
  • Wherever possible, add more veggies to make every meal a healthy me

healthy mummy Christmas fruit cake

10 healthy meals and snacks you’ll love this Christmas

Ready to bake some tasty snacks and delicious healthy meals for the holidays? We’ve put together a collection of some of our TOP favourites…

1. Christmas baked ham with pineapple glaze

Christmas Baked Ham With Pineapple Glaze

A lot of Christmas ham recipes use unhealthy toppings like brown sugar to sweeten up the salty ham. But this recipe uses a tasty balsamic vinegar and sweet pineapple glaze. You’ll be able to use your Christmas ham with roast veggies, salads, on sandwiches and in all sorts of our healthy meals.

2. Summer chickpea, spinach and pumpkin salad

Chickpea-and-Pumpkin-Salad

Salad doesn’t have to mean boring! This salad is super filling and comforting with roasted pumpkin and chickpea – and drizzled with a delicious sauce, it’s exactly the kind of healthy meal you can bring to any Christmas lunch.

3. Summer Rocket, Avocado and Almond Salad

Rocket-Avocado-and-Almond-Salad-2

If you’ve been asked to bring a salad to Christmas this year, skip the usual shop-bought potato/pasta salad and bring THIS instead. The Healthy Mummy rocket, avo, and almond salad is a healthy meal that’ll go perfect as a side with roasted cold meats.

4. Fresh & zesty lemon, mint and parsley quinoa salad

Lemon, Mint and Parsley Quinoa Salad

You’ll seriously impress your guests with this quinoa salad! The secret to this healthy meal is balancing the bright, fresh flavours of citrus, mint, cinnamon, and cumin. With this salad, you’ll skip the bloated post-lunch belly and still have room for dessert.

5. Three ingredient leg of lamb

3 ingredient leg of lamb

Lamb + rosemary + olive oil = deliciousness! You can use your roasted lamb in all sorts of healthy meals and salads. And because lamb is a high-protein, filling meat, you don’t need to eat much of it at all.

6. Christmas pavlova

Individual-Christmas-Pavlova

Is it really Christmas in Australia if you don’t eat a pavlova for dessert at least once? Nope! We love pavlovas because they keep well (so you can make them ahead of time), they’re easy to portion control, and you can load them up with delicious, fresh fruits. And at just 98 calories, these pavs give you all the deliciousness with none of the guilt.

7. Healthy chocolate and peanut butter cookies

Chocolate And Peanut Butter Cookies

Whether it’s Christmas day or a work event, chances are you won’t be the only one around who loves a good chocolate and peanut butter combo! These cookies are such a crowd pleaser and the perfect example of a naughty treat made nice with all the right substitutions.

8. Healthy gingerbread people

Refined Sugar Free Gingerbread People

Gingerbread = Christmas. And just because you’re eating healthy meals and snacks this year, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. This recipe has all of the flavour your love, while swapping sugar for dates and wholemeal flour and almond meal for refined flours.

9. Coconut and chocolate mousse

Mousse

Not only is this better-for-you mousse totally acceptable as part of your healthy meal plan, but it’s really quick and easy to make. It’s sure to be a favourite among the kids, so best if you make extra!

10. Frozen watermelon trees

FrozenWatermelonTrees-9621

Instead of serving up sugary ice blocks for afternoon tea, you can cool everyone down with these festive Christmas tree shaped watermelon slices! Simply decorate with a snowy dusting of greek yoghurt and blueberries, put them in the freezer, and you’re done.

Psst… want more tips for staying healthy this Christmas? Read our other article on 5 simple ways to have a healthier Christmas.

Get all your healthy meals planned for this Christmas

Want more healthy meals and better-for-you versions of your favourite holiday foods? Join our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge and get all our healthy meals and weight loss recipes! Or get our Christmas Entertaining Cookbook just in time for entertaining over the upcoming holiday period.

jodiehumphries

Jodie Humphries

Jodie is a beach-loving dog mum from the Mid North Coast of NSW now based in the Northern Beaches. She loves nothing more than to empower women to live a happier healthier lifestyle.

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