I stand firm in the belief that the holidays are a time to indulge. It doesn't matter what kind of health kick I've been on or for how long, I'm getting down with my favorite holiday dishes, especially at Christmas. But I also totally get why some people want healthy versions of favorite holiday foods, especially on December 26th when I'm convinced I'll never be able to move again.
As with most things, moderation is key during the holiday season. If you're going to down a gallon of egg nog, you might want to cut back on your cookie intake. If you're having a third helping of green bean casserole, maybe you should go easy on the mashed potatoes. (And also find a place to lay down because girl, that's going to hurt later.) But you definitely don't want to count calories all season long or constantly be worried about what you're putting in your mouth. Your best bet is to try one of these nine healthy versions of your favorite holiday foods and see if you can cut back on some of the unhealthy items at the table. By replacing a few favorite dishes with a healthier option, you'll be able to enjoy the entire meal without worry and still sink yoru teeth into a gingerbread man.
1Healthy Eggnog French Toast
Eggnog French toast is food of the holiday gods, but it can be loaded with fat and sugar. The Healthy Foodie has created a better-for-you version with thid healthy eggnog French toast. The batter for the bread calls for unsweetened applesauce and date paste, so you can get all of that creamy flavor without too much fat and sugar.
2Light and Easy Cheese Ball
Everyone loves digging into the cheese ball while waiting on Christmas dinner, but if you're wanting to stay healthy, you may feel like you can't indulge. That's not the case if you make foodiecrush's light and easy cheese ball. While it's not completely fat-free, it does make some healthier choices like using light cream cheese and Greek yogurt cream cheese.
2Mashed Coconut Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are one of my holiday favorites, but when they're covered in brown sugar, it kind of takes away the healthy components of the root vegetable. Oatmeal With a Fork's mashed coconut sweet potatoes still have that great, sweet taste, but with fresh orange juice and coconut butter, this recipe is a delicious healthy version of a Christmas classic.
4Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Few things are more comforting than a helping of macaroni and cheese. But all the carbs and fat can make you feel fairly terrible a few hours later. This year, try making Love and Lemons' cauliflower mac and cheese recipe. You'll get your classic taste with lots of yummy veggies and it's vegan, too.
5Green Bean Casserole
I could live off green bean casserole during the holidays. Yes, even with the condensed soups and fried onions. Terrible for me, but delicious. Most healthy versions of my favorite dish sound awful, but this green bean casserole from Mel's Kitchen Cafe is perfect. By using fresh green beans and mushrooms, low-sodium broth, and heavy cream instead of the cans of condensed soup, she makes it healthier without sacrificing the flavor.
6Carrot Salad With Coriander Vinaigrette
Those maple carrots soaked in butter and brown sugar are decadent, but definitely not considered a healthy choice. Instead, try Blogging Over Thyme's carrot salad with coriander vinaigrette and pistachios. With some crushed red pepper, the salad also has a bit of heat, and the vinaigrette is super simple. It can also replace your tired green salad you make every year.
7Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin
Give me any kind of potato and I'm happy — until later that night, that is. Banish those post-dinner blues with Naturally Ella's cheddar cauliflower gratin with roasted garlic. It's a great substitution for any potato dish, especially potatoes au gratin, and still tastes delicious.
8Mock Mashed Potatoes
So your kids won't even sit at the table if there's not any mashed potatoes on their plate? No problem. You can make a healthier version of everyone's favorite dish with these mock mashed potatoes from Pickles & Honey. Using cauliflower and cannelinni beans to make up the texture and bulk of the "potatoes," your kids won't even know the difference. Plus you can eat as much as you want without feeling guilty for all that carb loading later.
9Skinny Gingerbread Cupcakes With Sweet Cinnamon Glaze
Skip the gingerbread cookies and go for these skinny gingerbread cupcakes with sweet cinnamon glaze from The Scrumptious Pumpkin. With whole wheat flour and low-fat buttermilk, you don't have to sacrifice any taste for this sweet treat.
Images: Courtesy of The Scrumptious Pumpkin; The Healthy Foodie; foodiecrush; Oatmeal With a Fork; Love and Lemons; Mel's Kitchen Cafe; Blogging Over Thyme; Naturally Ella; Pickles & Honey; The Scrumptious Pumpkin