Simple Changes for a Healthier Holiday


Holidays are great for making memories with loved ones, however sometimes the large family meals, cocktail parties and get-togethers can take a toll on our wellness. There are plenty of delicious ways to decrease calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar without compromising on taste or quality in your recipes. Here are some easy ideas for recipe substitutions to help you and your family have happy and healthy holidays.

  • Try using smoked paprika, miso paste or chipotle seasoning instead of bacon or a ham hock to give vegetables a rich, smoky flavor for less calories, fat and sodium.
  • For recipes calling for whole milk or heavy cream, use the same amount of reduced fat milk or evaporated skim milk to decrease saturated fat. Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt can make a great substitution for buttermilk, too!
  • Pulse oats or crush unsweetened bran cereal to replace bread crumbs for a crunchy, fiber-filled swap.
  • If a recipe calls for canned, condensed cream soup, swap with mashed potatoes, pureed beans or silken tofu for a still-creamy, lower calorie option.
  • For pies and cakes, consider substituting ½ of the regular flour with whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour for angel food cake and sugar cookies. Note that whole wheat flour is denser than white flour, and absorbs more liquid so you typically need an additional 2 tablespoons of liquid. Other tips include using slightly less butter, cooking for slightly longer and adding 1-2 tablespoons of a no added sugar citrus juice to compensate for the stronger flavor of whole wheat flour.
  • When a recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, reduce it to ¾ cup or swap for blackstrap molasses (use 1 and 1/3 cup), honey (use ¾ cup) or a sugar alternative, like MARTIN’S Own Brands stevia sweetener. When making these substitutions, consider differences in cooking time and temperature as well as other ingredients. For example, if switching to a liquid sweetener like honey, decrease other liquids and lower the baking temperature 25ᵒ to prevent browning.
  • Check out MARTIN’S online brochure “Practical Tips for Recipe Substitutions” for more ideas!

For more tips on how to have happy, healthy holidays, visit MARTIN’S online or call to schedule a consultation with Caroline, or with Valerie Pulley, MARTIN’S in-store nutritionist on Richmond’s West End.

Caroline Roessler, MS, RDN is an in-store nutritionist for MARTIN’S Food Markets in Midlothian. She is committed to offering practical advice based on up-to-date information to help families make sustainable healthy changes to their lifestyle. To get a plan tailored to you, call Caroline at 804-794-7074 or email her at to set up a one-on-one consultation.