So we survived Halloween a couple weeks ago – on a Monday no less – mostly unscathed except that now we have an inordinate amount of candy in our house. And I feel as though the holiday sugar overload has just begun…and will continue on through Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s and even Easter, right? Hold on and let me stuff a few more peanut butter cups in my mouth while I think about that. Sigh.
Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite healthy eating hacks to help get you and your kids through the holiday sugar eating extravaganza with a little balance (says the mom who just ate another fun size milky way from that pesky pumpkin bucket).
Healthy Eating Hacks for the Holidays
#1 Greek Yogurt as Sour Cream
We eat a lot of Mexican around here – tacos once a week, burrito bowls, quesadillas – the list goes on. Years ago, a friend told me to use fat free plain Greek yogurt as a healthier alternative to sour cream and we’ve never turned back. Plain Greek yogurt tastes exactly like sour cream. We use it on tacos and soups, chili and nachos; we add lime juice, cilantro and chipotle spice for a tasty sauce perfect for topping fish or shrimp; we even use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise for tuna salad and deli sandwich spreads. If you love sour cream, try this and you’ll be a convert, I promise.
#2 Whole Grain Banana Pancakes
We eat pancakes nearly every weekend and for the past several years we’ve started using a random array of grains in our standard pancake recipe – flax seed, whole wheat flour, oats, buckwheat, chia seeds and spelt, to name a few. We usually add a bit of unbleached all purpose flour too, but the wheat flours and grains consist of whatever we have on hand. We often add bananas for extra sweetness and occasionally chocolate chips as a weekend treat too. Pancakes also freeze well, so double your batch and freeze extras for a quick weekday breakfast with a little boost of whole grains.
#3 Mac & Peas
For several years, my kids didn’t know that macaroni & cheese came without peas because I add them every time I make this kid favorite dish. I use frozen peas and add them after I’ve cooked and drained the noodles to cool down the mac & cheese (double bonus) and the girls inhale a little green with their cheesy goodness. I’ve also added broccoli and carrots to their mac and cheese, but these both need to be boiled/cooked a bit with the noodles before being added.
#4 Spinach on the Sly
A nutritionist once advised me to add a couple handfuls of spinach to soup and chili when I re-heat them for added fiber and iron because the spinach basically melts away when cooked. Later, she told me to try cutting up the spinach and cooking it in my kids grilled cheese – if you place the spinach strategically between two slices of cheese, they don’t even know that nutrition packed goodness is in there. Genius!
Smoothies are a great way to get some added nutrients into you and your kids diet. We make them with several of the ingredient hacks listed above such as spinach/kale, Greek yogurt and chia seeds and we also add frozen bananas, frozen pineapple or mango, and sometimes fresh avocado. The girls will drink these at breakfast or as an afternoon snack and again, I feel like they’re balancing some nutrients into their holiday sugar consumption.
How do you handle the sugar overload during the holidays? Do you have any healthy food hacks you use over and again? Please share them with us in the comments!