Here are some ideas I came up with which, while not being “Raw”, will really help to improve the over-all nutritional value and reduce the harm from holiday foods:
Pies – Try replacing traditional white flour & shortening or butter-based crusts with crusts made from ground nuts. These can work equally well for either baked, raw or cold cream pies. Pumpkin pie can be sweetened with pure maple syrup, agave syrup, stevia, honey or raw cane juice sugar. Replace dairy with low-fat soy, rice or almond milk. Cream pies can be made using the same substitutions to increase their nutritional and beneficial properties. Fruit pies can be sweetened with the same choice of all-natural, non-refined sweeteners. Thicken pies with egg whites or corn starch instead of flour. If you MUST use dairy, opt for fat-free skim milk. Top pies with low calorie, egg white based meringues’ sweetened with stevia and skip the whipping cream or Cool Whip altogether. If you crave a creamy topping, go for a nice, naturally sweetened nut cream. (Recipes follow. You’ll also find more recipe ideas further down the page in my blog.)
Other Desserts – Consider making fruit-based crisps which can be naturally sweetened & topped with oatmeal, crushed nuts and cinnamon/stevia.
Mashed Potatoes – Instead of loading potatoes up with milk and butter, try this for a delicious, low-fat alternative – boil cubed potatoes in water flavored with chicken (or vegetable) bullion cubes (1 per every cup or cup and a half of liquid.) When potatoes are tender drain most of the liquid and reserve in a container. The bullion cubes will add plenty of salt flavor. Now toss in a few cloves of minced garlic. These really are delicious just like this, but if you “require” a creaminess in your mashed potatoes, try adding low-fat soy, rice or almond milk. If you MUST use dairy, opt for fat-free skim milk or a few dollops of fat-free sour cream. Add back in the reserved bullion liquid until the potatoes arrive at your desired texture.
Candied Yams – Again, skip the butter and brown sugar. Try using pure maple syrup, chopped pecans or walnuts, cinnamon and spray I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to add a buttery flavor but no added calories. Hint: Toasting the nuts prior to adding to the potatoes will really give them a shot of flavor! Think about adding some chopped fruit bits, such as apple, mango, pineapple, apricot to give additional sweetness and interest!
Salads – Focus on non-jello based salads. This is an area where you can really increase the raw foods available in your meal! Try making a Waldorf Salad with the traditional chopped apple, celery & walnuts. Add raisins and instead of using mayonnaise in your dressing go for an almond cream based dressing or an olive oil and balsamic vinegar with agave nectar option. Try lots of salad variations which include a mixture of greens, vegetables, fruit and chopped nuts, Instead of store-bought dressings go for easy home made versions which use olive oil & vinegar or citrus juice, mashed avocado, marinated tomatoes with fresh minced garlic, and other creative and unusual ideas to keep things interesting and nutritious.
Cranberry Sauce – Try making your own this year from fresh cranberries instead of going for the canned, corn syrup based version! Toss whole cranberries with orange juice, orange zest, apple and/or raspberries & agave nectar into your food processor or blender and mix to your desired consistency. Think about adding some fresh minced ginger or the powdered version for some real ZING!
Gravy – Strain juices from turkey as soon as it comes out of the oven and place in a container in the fridge to chill while you are working on other things. Skim the solidified fat from the top of the juices then return to a pan to re-heat. Add garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, rubbed sage and a little agave nectar for flavor and thicken with corn starch and cold water.
Stuffing – Skip the cubed bread, butter and milk version this year. Try replacing it with a nice wild rice pilaf that includes LOTS of sautéed vegetables such as celery, onion, carrot and even mushrooms. Add some chopped nuts such as almonds, pecans or hazelnuts if you like. Even dried fruit such as apples, currants, raisins, dates, apricots, cranberries or cherries would be a nice addition and will still keep the starchy, refined grains to a bare minimum.
Dinner Rolls – Speaking of refined grains…if you do one single thing this year, do your best to eliminate them altogether. If you can focus your meal around the turkey, a variety of vegetables, greens, and fruit-based desserts you will be MUCH better off! But…if you MUST go for some kind of bread, try opting for whole wheat or corn based breads. Again, eliminate any refined sweeteners and solid fats like butter, shortening or margarine.
In addition to the recipe alterations, try measuring your serving sizes this year. Commit to, say, a half-cup of all the starchy and sweet foods such as candied yams, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf. Decide in advance that you will only allow yourself a maximum of, say, 1/4 cup or 4 Tbs. of gravy. Limit the dressings on your salads to 2 Tbs. and dedicate yourself to having only one serving of everything. Drink lots of water, decaf coffee and tea. Sip only a glass or two of wine. Think moderation. If you fill up on zero calorie beverages it will really help curb your appetite and keep you from over doing it.
Ok, those are some of my ideas for a healthier holiday meal! I hope these give you some good ideas and get your creative juices flowing!
Big Hugs and Bright Blessings,