How to Make Healthy Holiday Food Choices |

How to Make Healthy Holiday Food Choices

guest November 3, 2012

Some of the most common things I hear just after the holidays are comments about how much weight everybody gained from all the good food. I’m not a proponent of obsessing over food. I don’t overeat, and I don’t starve myself. If I want a piece of chocolate cheesecake, I eat it, and I enjoy it. No guilt.

One of the ways I can thoroughly enjoy my food without worrying about my waistline is by trying to have an 80/20 or 90/10 rule. That means that 80-90% of what I eat is nutrient-dense and completely guilt-free. The other 10-20% is allowed to be more indulgent (still no guilt!!). If I know that most of my food is healthy, I can give myself a little grace with the rest.

The best way to have delicious and healthy holiday foods is to make them yourself from real food (as opposed to processed food)! If you don’t cook much, check out Kate Tietje’s cookbook, Wholesome Real Food Favorites for recipes. If you have favorite holiday foods that are less than healthy, check out these ideas for swapping out the not-so-good ingredients for better ones! Don’t have any recipes for holiday foods? Check out Earthley’s guide, Holiday Recipes: Whole Foods for the Whole Family.

Healthier Swaps

  • Healthy Fats: This is where people make the biggest mistakes, especially during the holidays. They believe that if they eat low, unsaturated, or even man-made fat (margarine), they can get away with eating more. Not true! What we need to do is switch to healthy fats, such as butter, coconut oil, cream, lard, and tallow. Think that’s crazy?? Kate has done an excellent post explainingย healthy fats and why we need them (this type of fat won’t make you fat)!
  • Unprocessed Sweeteners: I know that the biggest craving for most of us during the holidays is the sweet stuff! Don’t worry; I won’t tell you to avoid all sugars. The first thing to do is to ditch all those fake sweeteners (except all-natural stevia, if you like it) and everything containing high fructose corn syrup. Then, use all the plain ol’ white sugar to Rosemary-Mint Sugar Scrub because you won’t be eating it!!! Buy raw, local honey, grade B maple syrup, rapadura/sucanat, or other sugar alternatives. These sweeteners have minerals to help you process the sugar and a much better flavor than artificial sweeteners. Want to know more? Check out our posts Everything You Need to Know About Sugar! and
  • Herbs and Spices: The third big downfall I see during the holidays is artificial flavorings. Artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and “flavor enhancers” are often dangerous, not to mention a sad replacement for the real thing! Instead of “seasoning packets,” marinades, and sauces full of artificial ingredients, consider using herbs and spice! Did you know that many people have adverse reactions to all this artificial junk? Some of them even cause weight gain!
  • Unrefined Salt: If you read our blog, Everything You Need to Know About Salt, you know regular table salt has been stripped of everything except sodium chloride, which causes us to retain water! If you want to fit into your special holiday clothes, this is less than helpful. Around my house, we consider unrefined Celtic sea salt a healthy food! This is such a simple switch that makes a huge difference.

So, what will this look like regarding your favorite recipes? Here are some examples of refined foods gone real!


Chocolate Chip Cookies: These are something that we make every year, and I knew I needed to re-create. Turns out that we like them even more with the healthier ingredients! Try out these kinds of swaps in your favorite holiday cookie recipe.

  • Freshly ground whole wheat instead of white flour.
  • Half butter, half coconut oil instead of “Smart Balance.”
  • Rapadura instead of white sugar.
  • Dark chocolate chips instead of regular.
  • Eggs from a local farm instead of from the store.
  • Celtic sea salt instead of processed salt.

Looking for a recipe? Try making our Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies or Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies.

Sour Cream Dips: I used to buy sour cream and seasoning packets to make sour cream dip. I’m not sure I could even eat that now! Bleck! Now, we make our own sour cream and mix it with various things to make delicious dips!

Turkey: Rather than buying turkeys injected with mixtures of refined salt and other stuff, we use a butter and herb mixture under the skin. Juicy and flavorful! Looking for a delicious Turkey recipe? Try making our Brined, Slow-Roasted Turkey.

Chocolate: I don’t know about you, but I love chocolate during the holidays! Not all chocolate is unhealthy, some variations of chocolate have amazing health benefits. Instead of buying pre-made candy, I’ve learned I can satisfy my chocolate cravings with healthier treats! Try Earthley’s Cocoa Calm with our Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups or Chocolate Stress-Reducing Balls (because we all need stress relief around the holidays).

I hope that our healthy switches help to get your creative juices flowing! To learn more about easy switches and baby steps to eating healthier food, check out our blog, 10 Healthy Food Swaps.

What kinds of healthy food switches have you made? Any new ones you’re going to try this year?

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  1. I am going to try to make my own cranberry sauce and stuffing this year, something I haven’t done before. My husband grew up with the “cranberry in a can” and LOVES it, I’m on a mission to make an even better version that we’ll have around for years.


    • That’s wonderful, Jerri! My hubby loves the cranberry sauce from a can, too, and we’ve made several homemade versions the past few years. He likes those, but they’re not “the same”. ๐Ÿ™‚ This year I’m going to come up with one that is just like the canned kind- he’ll be thrilled! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks so much for the comment!


  2. […] Read the rest of this post over at Modern Alternative Mama! […]


  3. I make my sweet potato casserole from scratch! I use real sweet potatoes instead of the candied ones in the can, bake, peel and mash them. I use real butter, organic eggs and this year I am going to try raw honey in the recipe instead of sugar! It is so amazing I can eat a whole pan myself!


  4. […] How to Make Healthy Food Choices – Perfect for the holidays (or any time of year). […]


  5. […] best to make healthy food decision that donโ€™t leave you feeling awful after the holidays, but when we do overeat, what is the best way to […]


  6. Our family has never been one to worry about our waist line as long as what we are eating is healthy our waist will take care of itself. Love the idea of making your own foods to be sure you have maximized nutrition. We have recently switched to a vegan diet and we where already no preservatives but the switch is proven challenging to some of the kids.

    I will be sure to have a look around for some more recipes here thanks for the lovely post.


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Hi, Iโ€™m Kate. ย I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at Earthley.ย I hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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