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Besides eating at The Brown Bag everyday from Thanksgiving through New Years Day, what can you do to make your holiday a little healthier?  No one wants to be the girl on the side with lettuce and a piece of turkey, or the guy who passes the sweet potato casserole on by without grabbing a spoonful or two, right?  Carb-free for the holidays?  Ouch. So, what’s a person who watches what they eat to do during the most fattening time of the year?  Our answer:  Whatever you can.  Sometimes small things can make a big difference.  If you’re just looking to cut fat, check into recipes for old favorites that have been updated for health-conscious consumers like yourself.  The internet is a treasure trove of recipes that replace bad fats for good ones.  If your recipe calls for butter, then how about using olive oil instead?  So many dishes have easy fixes.  Say you’re baking a nice loaf of banana bread for a Christmas morning breakfast, and your recipe calls for canola oil—substitute!  Not only can you switch to olive oil (which, trust me, does not affect the taste), you can forego the oil entirely and substitute apple sauce.  For an added benefit, use sugar-free apple sauce.  How about switching out that white flour for wheat, and maybe substituting ground flax seed for some of the flour?  The ground flax seed may give your bread a hint of a nutty flavor, otherwise there is no noticeable difference.  You can even try using yogurt in place of the buttermilk that your recipe may call for.  Look at all the healthy things you’ve added to that one loaf of bread!  It will taste just as good (if not better) and you’ve added nutrients!

A simple search led us to a super, new super-food recipe!  A new take on an old classic and a staple of the holiday dinner table—sweet potato casserole.  You didn’t really want to pass on it, did you?  Give this recipe a try and you won’t have to.  Instead of piling on the marshmallows, this recipe uses honey to sweeten the sweet potatoes a shade more.  Topped with crunchy pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon, trust us—you won’t miss the marshmallows.  We taste a new holiday tradition starting! What about that old holiday standard, green bean casserole?  Eating Well  has given it a face-lift (and a calorie lift), by skipping the canned cream soup, and, instead, opting for a roux made with olive oil, flour and low-fat milk.  Traditionally, this recipe calls for cream of mushroom soup, but canned cream soups very often are high in sodium and other additives, so by making your own roux (and opting for a roux made with olive oil instead of butter), you’re cutting, not just fat, but sodium and preservatives.  Add to this the use of fresh green beans rather than canned, and you’re upping the healthy factor even more. Looking for a healthier turkey?  Consider a heritage turkey.  We have a whole a blog about them and why they might be a good idea for your holiday table.  You can find it here.

How about you get moving?  Regardless of how much you’re able to cut the fat from your holiday table, the simple fact is that, more than likely, you will indulge a little.  Let’s just admit it:  It’s really hard to say no when the pumpkin pie is being passed around (and don’t forget the whipped cream!).  So, offset some of that holiday spread with some activity.  Don’t wait for the new year—get started now.  How many times have you made the resolution (and meant it)—this year I’m going to get in shape. I’ll join the gym.  I’ll lose weight.  I’ll eat healthier, etc., etc.  More times than you can count?  You’re in good company.  We all have.  So, how about you start now—no promises to make or break—just set the goal of keeping it all stable during the holidays.  By the time the new year rolls around, you just might find yourself in the midst of a new habit instead of setting yourself up with a resolution that fails to get rolling. There are so many ways to keep your eating sane this holiday season, and to indulge a little and keep the pounds from piling on.  It’s all about balance, really.  Do a little recipe research and commit to a little more time on the treadmill right now, and we think you’ll find that the the spread that so many dread will pass right on by you.  We’ll be waiting for you on the other side with a bottle of water to help you cool off from your now habitual run/walk and your favorite healthy food on the fly.  Happy, healthy holidays!