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A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

{Note from Jessica: Today's post is shared by my sweet friend Mindy. Mindy is a whole food lover with a passion for sharing natural and safe alternatives to conventional beauty products. Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle can seem overwhelming. So at her blog, Simple Pure Beauty, she likes to keep things simple by sharing safe, natural beauty product recipes and remedies using very few ingredients. Stop by Mindy's blog to learn about natural remedies, simple whole food cooking and creating safe, healthy environments for our families.}

There is nothing more special than family gatherings around the holidays. I have so many amazing memories of holiday gatherings with good food, games and good conversations over the years. As time goes by and family members have moved away, these holiday family gatherings become more and more sacred.

Always at the center of our holiday gatherings you will find a very special woman, my grandmother. Her name is Joy and that is exactly what she brings to our family!  And at the ripe old young age of 88, you will still find her in the kitchen doing most of the cooking at our family dinners. Her recipes, though not always the healthiest, taste AMAZING and are filled with love.

As you can imagine, at the age of 88, my grandma is pretty set in her ways in the kitchen. So I enjoy her holiday meals and appreciate the love she puts into them.

But today I want to share with you small changes you can make to your holiday dinner menu for a healthier family dinner that still tastes delicious!

Healthy Roasted Turkey

Healthy Roasted Turkey, A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

If you like turkey for your holiday dinners, like my family, oven roasted turkey is already a pretty healthy option. But for an even healthier turkey, here are a few tips:

1. Find an Organic Pastured Turkey

Skip the turkey from the grocery store and buy a pastured, organic turkey from your local farmer. Conventional turkeys are usually fed a diet of gmo grains and more than likely have been given antibiotics and hormones. If you don't have a local farmer, you can also order organic turkeys from places like Azure Standard and Tropical Traditions that are non-GMO certified and pasture raised.

2. Slather that Turkey in REAL Pastured Butter

Before putting your turkey in the oven, cover that baby in pastured butter from a reputable brand like Kerrygold. The health benefits of grass feed butter are too many to list, but you can read all about them here.  So no pulling out a stick of margarine, this turkey calls for the real deal. Your taste buds and your family will thank you.

Healthy Turkey Gravy

Healthy Gravy, A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

There's nothing like the rich flavor of homemade turkey gravy. With these simple substitutions you don't have to feel guilty about adding that extra spoonful of gravy to your plate.

1. Make Your Own Broth

Consider making your own broth to add to your turkey drippings. I have a really simple recipe for making your own broth on my blog that can easily be used for turkey broth as well as chicken. Turkey and chicken stock can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. I love freezing it in ice cube trays for convenience.

2. Swap out Flour for Healthier Thickeners

If you or anyone in your family are avoiding gluten and grains, simply switch out the flour thickener for a healthier option. Arrowroot powder or organic non-GMO corn starch are both gluten free options to thicken up your gravy.

Healthy Mashed Potatoes

Healthy Mashed Potatoes, A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

I know a lot of people on restricted diets will probably forgo the mashed potatoes all together, but if you don't have restrictions, there are a few simple changes for the healthiest mashed potatoes possible. You can use Jessica's delicious Garlic Cheddar Mashed Potatoes recipe as a base to create your own masterpiece.

1. Choose organic potatoes instead of conventional.

Actually this would be good to do all of the time, not just on the holidays. Potatoes are one of the most sprayed vegetables and appear on the Dirty Dozen list. They are sprayed with fungicides while growing, herbicides  before harvesting and again after harvest to prevent sprouting. Yuck.

2. Use REAL Pastured Butter and Organic or RAW Milk When Mashing… So Good!

And we are back to butter. Swapping out your conventional anti-biotic filled milk and butter for organic or grass fed varieties will not only make your potatoes healthier, but oh my goodness, they will taste amazing! I love Kerrygold butter and purchase grass fed raw milk from a local farmer. If you don't have access to raw milk or aren't comfortable with it, I would recommend organic milk from a reputable brand like Organic Valley. For dairy intolerance, try coconut milk or almond milk…. I really want some mashed potatoes now…

3. Use cauliflower instead of potatoes.

Jessica has an excellent recipe for creamy whipped cauliflower puree that has the taste and texture of whipped mashed potatoes — without all the carbs. Get her recipe here.

Healthy Stuffing

Healthy Stuffing, A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

Mmmm…stuffing. What can you do to makeover this staple turkey dinner side item?

1. Ditch the Stovetop® Stuffing for healthier, homemade alternatives.

Unfortunately Stovetop® Stuffing is full of unhealthy ingredients including high fructose corn syrup, GMO soy, MSG and a host of preservatives and other nasties. Here are a few healthier options:

Healthy Green Beans

HealthyGreen Beans , A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

Growing up one of the side dishes my mom was always asked to bring to holiday dinners was green bean casserole. I never actually liked green bean casserole, but I LOVED the crunchy onions she would buy for the topping. So for healthier green beans, why not:

1. Make a Healthier Green Bean Casserole

Why not skip the condensed soup and processed french fried onions and make a whole food version of this popular side dish? Kresha at Nourishing Joy has a great post walking you though the steps to make a healthier green bean casserole all the way down to the crispy fried onions…yum

2. Change it up and Try Green Bean Salads

If you're bored with the normal green bean casserole dishes, try using green beans in a salad for a healthy and delicious change. Jessica's Tangy Green Bean Salad is easy to prepare and tastes amazing with the traditional turkey dinner. Get her recipe here.

Healthy Sweet Potatoes

Healthy Sweet Potatoes, A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

Sweet Potatoes. I'm not really a fan if you can believe that. But I know so many people are because they are so good for you. Well, except when they are cooked in piles of brown sugar and topped with mini marshmallows. Holy sugar rush! Who needs dessert when there's sweet potato casserole? But there are ways to enjoy your sweet potatoes without the added unhealthy sugar.

1. If you have a family recipe that you absolutely love, swap out your conventional ingredients with healthier options.

  • Swap brown sugar for coconut palm sugar or sucanat
  • Swap margarine with REAL grass fed butter
  • Swap mini marshmallows with homemade marshmallows. Recipe here.

 2. Want to try a new healthier recipe, here are some delicious options from Pinterest.

Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Healthy Cranberry Sauce, A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

So I have actually never even tried the cranberry sauce that is served at our family holidays.

Well, I don't know that I would call it a sauce, as it appears more like a gelatinous glob of red goo as it flops onto the serving dish out of the can. I have never been even remotely tempted to try this cranberry dish. And on further inspection, many canned cranberry sauces out there contain high fructose corn syrup, which I am sure is derived from GMO corn.

Just another reason to avoid the canned cranberry sauce. So what are some healthier options?

1. Make your own cranberry sauce

With just a few ingredients you can make your own cranberry sauce like this one. So much healthier and more visually appealing…

2. Try a fresh cranberry relish instead

If you don't like the jelly / jam consistency of traditional cranberry sauces, try making a “relish” with fresh cranberries. Jessica's recipe for Cranberry Orange Relish with Ginger and Nuts is an homage to her late aunt's traditional side dish at Thanksgiving. It's fresh, tangy, and delicious! Get her recipe here.

Healthy Holiday Desserts

Healthy Holiday Desserts, A Holiday Menu Makeover: Simple Swaps for a Healthier Family Dinner // deliciousobsessions.com

And last but certainly not least would be the amazing decadent desserts, some seen only at the most special holiday dinners. Lucky for us pies, cakes, and cookies all have the ability to be transformed using whole, healthy ingredients.

1. Look no further than Pinterest for amazing healthier dessert inspiration…

Here are a few of my favorites pins for your holiday:

I hope you are now inspired to make a few simple changes for healthier holiday meals.

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food wellness educator and the founder of the Delicious Obsessions website. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. She began helping her mother cook and bake around the age of three and she's been in the kitchen ever since, including working in a restaurant in her hometown for almost a decade, where she worked every position before finally becoming the lead chef. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.

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