With the Holiday season comes far more opportunities for indulgences and temptations. Whilst I believe it is important to enjoy yourself this time of year, if optimizing your health and metabolism are your goals, here are 5 foods I would recommend avoiding (plus their healthier alternatives!)
A majority of Starbucks holidays drinks are filled with syrups, added sugars and whipped cream. Large amounts of sugar can spike blood sugar levels, leading to a subsequent crash, impacting your metabolism’s ability to regulate energy effectively. When I am craving a festive holiday drink, I love making my Lean & Clean Peppermint Hot Chocolate with better-for-you ingredients.
Lean & Clean Peppermint Hot Chocolate
(makes 1 serving)
Blend all of the ingredients (except the coconut cream) for 15-30 seconds, then top with the whipped coconut cream and enjoy!
Foods like fried mozzarella sticks, onion rings and fried chicken wings are usually made with refined flours and cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils. These fried foods can cause inflammation in the body, which in turn can impair your metabolism. Instead, opt for protein and veggie based appetizers while you’re out to eat or at a friend’s house (you can even offer to bring a healthier option). One of my favourite’s is asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.
Eggnog is typically made with eggs, cream spices and sugar – lots of sugar. And if you’re enjoying the ‘adult’ version, it is also spiked with alcohol like brandy. Unfortunately, this combination of high sugar and alcohol will not be doing your metabolism any favors as it can cause dysregulated blood sugar levels and effect the quality of your sleep.
Healthier Virgin Egg Nog
(makes 4-6 servings)
In a saucepan, combine the two types of milk. Heat the mixture over medium heat until it’s just about to simmer, but do not boil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, honey or maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla extract.
Slowly pour a small amount of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This helps to temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling. Gradually pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the warm milk, continuing to whisk constantly.
Continue to heat the mixture over a medium heat, stirring until it thickens slightly (approximately 5-7 minutes). Remove the saucepan from heat and let the eggnog cool to room temperature. You can place it in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.
Chill the eggnog in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir well before serving.
While comfortingly tasty, mac and cheese is made with refined carbohydrates and flours from the large amount of pasta and breadcrumb toppings – this really is a full meal, not a side dish! One of my favourite simple swaps is a veggie side dish with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Choosing veggies like roasted carrots or squash can also help to satisfy that starchy craving.
Canned cranberry sauce often contains high fructose corn syrup and a lot of added sugars. As I often talk about, high sugar foods (especially when from an ultra processed or refined source) can lead to blood sugar spikes, making you feel hungrier sooner and contributing to increased cravings. Instead, make your own cranberry sauce, which is actually super simple and much tastier!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
(makes 4-6 servings)
Rinse the cranberries thoroughly and remove any stems or bruised berries.
In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange juice, sugar and orange zest (if using).
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens.
Taste the sauce and adjust sweetness according to your preference.
Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool. It will thicken further as it cools down. Once cooled, transfer the cranberry sauce to a bowl or airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to serve.