How can I prepare heart-healthy holiday meals?

Sticking to a heart-healthy diet during holidays can be a tough task. Traditional foods for holidays may not be the healthiest, and it is easy to overindulge when celebrating with family and friends. However, if you are trying to manage existing heart disease or reduce your risk factors, cooking healthier holiday meals is important.
The following tips can help you plan healthier holiday celebration meals:
  • Serve a selection of higher-fiber crackers with hummus, and raw vegetables with low-fat dressing for quick snacks or appetizers at a holiday party. Also, a fancy bowl full of unsalted nuts has heart-healthy unsaturated fat.
  • Cut out or reduce salt by half in most recipes. Substitute pepper, herbs, onion, garlic or flavored vinegars in place of salt.
  • Look for lean cuts of meat. The words "round," "loin" or "chuck" indicate the healthiest choices. The word "prime" in the name means high in fat.
  • Use fat-free evaporated milk to make creamy mashed potatoes. Use low-sodium chicken broth and roasted fresh garlic (or garlic powder) to give them a little more flavor.
  • Make your stuffing heart healthy by using whole-wheat bread crumbs. Then mix in more celery and onion than called for in the recipe, along with dried cranberries, raisins and apricots instead of meat. Use less butter or margarine than called for to reduce the saturated fat. To obtain the correct moist consistency, use more water instead of broth to reduce the sodium.
  • Skip store-bought gravy mixes or jars of gravy and make your own. Use low-sodium broth (or meat drippings with the fat removed), flour and skim milk to make a delicious, healthier gravy.
  • Avoid pre-packaged cookies, cakes and pies because they are typically filled with trans and saturated fats. Make your own desserts. When making pumpkin pie, make it crustless, and reduce the amount of sugar by half and enhance "sweetness" by adding more vanilla, nutmeg, or cinnamon.
  • Buy low-fat eggnog to cut down on calories and fat. Or better yet, try mulled apple cider or ginger tea.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.