Twelve more days until Christmas!!! I’m heading back East to visit my family to celebrate and I’m so excited!
A little about my family, my dad and my brother are both diabetic, with my dad having Type II Diabetes (diagnosed at age 40 and he’s now a few months shy of turning 81!) and my brother has Type I Diabetes (diagnosed at age 9 and he is now 37 years old). While my family has always maintained a healthy and active lifestyle (we still wonder how and why these diagnoses happened), being able to alter recipes at the holiday table to cut back on sugar and salt has always been very important to us.
I recently had the chance to chat with Christy Goff, a registered dietitian at Pacific Medical Centers to learn more about some healthy holiday swaps your family can try at the table this Christmas (and beyond!).
When altering recipes for health think of these three steps:
• Step 1: Increase vegetables, fruits and fiber
• Step 2: Lower amounts of sugar, salt
• Step 3: Cut back on high saturated fat sources like meat and full fat dairy
• Use recipes with unsweetened applesauce, mashed ripe bananas or pumpkin puree instead of butter or oil in cakes, brownies, breads or muffins.
• Try reducing the amount of sugar listed in recipes by up to 1/3 of original amount. Use spices such as cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg to add flavor instead or vanilla extract.
• Flour: instead of only white flour use whole grain flour or a mixture of whole grain and white flour to increase fiber.
• Stevia for sugar: The natural sweetener stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a very long way. A recipe calling for 1 cup sugar should be swapped for 1 teaspoon liquid stevia (or about 2 tablespoons stevia powder).
• Use beans for flour: Swap out 1 cup flour for 1 cup black bean purée (about one 15- ounce can) for an extra dose of protein, fiber and a cut in carbohydrates.
• Skip the crust – try going crust-less for a pie (either remove top or use simpler crust like nuts to make a lighter meal
When making savory recipes:
• Add more vegetables
• Use herbs & spices to improve flavor and reduce the need for salt in recipes. Try garlic powder, cumin or coriander to add flavor or end a dish with a fresh squeeze of citrus juice.
• Dairy: use plain yogurt in place of sour cream or cream cheese on soups.
• Dairy alternative: Instead of cream or milk use a simple cashew cream: blend 1 cup of boiled cashews with ¾ cup of water until creamy and smooth or an avocado for creaminess.
• Nuts: Top your dishes with nuts for an extra crunch.
• Zoodles for pasta noodles: Thin strips or ribbons of zucchini are a great stand-in for carb-packed pastas. Simply sauté for a few minutes until soft.
• Spaghetti squash for pasta: Roasted and pulled apart with a fork, spaghetti squash is a great low-carb substitute for pasta. One squash will make between two and three servings.
• Turnip or cauliflower mash for mashed potatoes: Boil and mash and then add some fresh herbs in place of the salt. Got picky eaters at the table? Try mixing 1/3 potato, 1/3 cauliflower, and 1/3 turnips.
• Grated steamed cauliflower for rice: Lighten up a carb-heavy dinner by replacing rice (or some of it) with grated cauliflower. The texture and the taste are similar!
• Oven or pan-frying for deep-frying: Misting oil in a pan and bake in the oven to easily cut fat without too much flavor.
• Steam rather than boil: While both are great options for meats and veggies, steaming is king because it removes fewer nutrients from vegetables. While boiling can leech out some of the better nutrients, steaming keeps all the nutrients inside the veggies.
• Sauté in chicken broth instead of oil: While this won’t brown your vegetables as much as oil might, sautéing in chicken (or veggie) broth lightens up the dish while adding tons of flavor.
• Substitute rolled oats or crushed bran cereal as a substitute for bread crumbs in meatloaf or meatballs.
When using beverages:
• Seltzer water with citrus slice for soda or mix seltzer in with your cocktail of choice instead of soda
• Use reduced fat milk for beverages like eggnog and white Russians rather than cream.
• Alternate caloric beverages with a glass of water or sparkling water to drink less
Christy Goff is a registered dietitian nutritionist and yoga instructor at Pacific Medical
Centers. She graduated with a masters from Bastyr University and has since worked in various
settings including as a clinical dietitian, as a dietitian with the federal program for woman, infants
and children (WIC), and with SNAP-ED program. Christy is often in the media with interviews
by Q13 Fox and King5, producing original cooking videos and is a regular representative on the
PacMed social media pages. Additionally, she is a board member of the Greater Seattle Dietetic
Association & past president. No matter her job title, she helps clients start on a journey to
solve their health goals. In her free time she enjoys hiking, cooking, photography and traveling.
Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) is a multi-specialty medical group with nine neighborhood
clinics in the Puget Sound area. Founded in 1933, the PacMed network is one of the largest
throughout the Puget Sound and offers patients more than 150 providers for primary and
specialty care. PacMed’s culture focuses on its mission of delivering high-quality health care
focused on the individual needs of its di