If your family is anything like mine, we’re always finding an excuse to gather for meals and parties. Especially around the holidays, it kicks into high gear. And as a Latina, the food defines our gatherings.
In my mind, no holiday party would be complete without fried plantains, which I bake instead of deep fry, and rice and beans, which I swap out for brown rice (or even quinoa) and beans. One of my favorite parts of the holidays is creating and sharing different holiday foods with family and friends. And as a registered dietitian, I’m always using simple ingredient swaps to cut down on calories – but not taste!
In case you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, here are some of my favorite ingredient swaps:
- If a recipe calls for mayonnaise, try 2 parts plain, low-fat yogurt and 1 part Dijon mustard. This swap is a no brainer for foods like tuna or chicken salads. Adding walnuts to these staple salads adds tons of extra flavors, plus some bonus omega-3!
- Incorporate no-calorie sweeteners for that sweet taste when watching calories. My black bean brownies are always a hit with my guests, plus they provide an added source of fiber. Evette Rios also has a great horchata recipe with oatmeal and almonds.
- When a recipe calls for butter, try the same amount of unsweetened applesauce or canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling). This also adds seasonal flavors to your favorite desserts.
- For that chocolaty taste, use equal parts dark chocolate chips and raw cacao nibs.
- When choosing starches like rice, pasta and potatoes, look for whole grain options, brown or black rice, whole grain durum wheat, quinoa pasta and sweet potato.
With all the holiday gatherings and great food to look forward to this season, these simple swaps can be a great way to cut calories without skimping on taste. When you’re getting ready for your next party, try incorporating one of these simple swaps into your favorite recipes and enjoy with you friends and family. Happy holidays!
Jamie Seidner, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness counselor in Miami, Florida. She is also a busy mom with two little boys. She has a thriving private practice, consults for groups including the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, leads corporate wellness classes and enjoys sharing recipes and food tips with her family and friends. Jamie received a BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Florida and a MS in Nutrition and Applied Physiology from Columbia University.