The holidays are often the worst time to start a new diet. Why? Well, it is a short period filled with family get-togethers that are centered around eating large meals together. It is also the coldest time of the year so families are overwhelmingly less active and tend to stay indoors. All of these factors lead to weight gain. But, there are ways to change that cycle. First, start an indoor workout routine. Many of these exercises don’t even require special equipment. The other is to cut down on portion sizes and reduce the calorie intake of these classic holiday dishes. Below are just a few examples.
Peanut Butter Stuffed Baked Pears (Low-Calorie diet)
This would be an excellent recipe to make instead of perhaps a holiday pie or other baked goods. It cuts down on the work, the calories, but doesn’t lack satisfaction of flavor.
- 4 pears
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp zero calorie sugar (I use Swerve)
- 8 Tbsp peanut butter
- Crushed peanuts (optional for topping)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut each pear evenly in half. Scoop out the core of each pear with a cookie scoop or melon baller
- Place the pear halves side by side in a large baking pan
- In a small bowl, mix the honey and vanilla until well combined. In a SEPARATE bowl, mix the cinnamon & sugar until well combined
- Drizzle the honey mixture over all the pears. Then, sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over all the pears
- Place in the oven and bake the pears for about 25 minutes
- After baking, remove from oven and scoop 1 tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each pear
- Top with more cinnamon or crushed peanuts if desired
Healthy Green Bean Casserole
This is a healthy take on a holiday classic and one of my personal favorites!
- 2 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
- 3 tablespoons 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white or black pepper
- 2 ½ cups low-fat milk
- 1 ½ cups 1 1/2 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs or 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese
- Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven; preheat to 425 degrees F.
- Toss green beans in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- When the green beans are done, remove them from the oven. Preheat the broiler.
- Transfer half the green beans to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce.
- Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).
- Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.