SEATTLE, November 30, 2023 – the holiday season is here and the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is encouraging Washingtonians to make the season smart for their heart. Small changes in the kitchen can lead to a big impact in the health of the entire family. 

“Traditions are an important part of celebrating the holidays,” said Lisa Lovejoy, sports nutritionist, MultiCare Health System. “And there are ways to honor customs while supporting health. Often small tweaks to an ingredient in a family recipe is an easy change to make and you don’t even notice the substitution.” 

Lovejoy offers eight ideas on how to hack holiday recipes: 

  1. Choose “low-sodium” or “no sodium added” canned veggies or try frozen varieties. About 70 percent of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed, prepackaged or restaurant foods. Reading labels to identify and reduce sodium is a simple way to net healthy results.
  2. Replace salt with herbs and spices. Get creative with recipes and use lemon juice, herbs, citrus zest or chilies for extra flavor without the added sodium.
  3. Choose canned fruits packed in natural juice or water rather than syrup. Drain and rinse in a colander to remove excess syrup or juice.
  4. Reduce the amount of sugar in recipes. When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar called for in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Often you won’t notice the difference. You can also switch out sugar with unsweetened applesauce in recipes (use equal amounts).
  5. Swap non-fat, plain Greek yogurt for sour cream.
  6. Instead of butter, use a healthier vegetable oil or substitute equal parts unsweetened applesauce when baking. Also use non-stick cooking spray to grease a pan vs. butter or shortening.
  7. Go for half and half — half wheat and half white flour in recipes. Whole grains are a great nutritional boost and mixing the flours helps disguise the swap.
  8. Sip smarter by adding seasonal fruit to old fashioned H2O. Jazz up your drink without adding alcohol by infusing cranberries, pomegranate arils or orange slices into sparkling water.

Following a heart healthy diet is an important component in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. Looking at your total dietary pattern and striking a good balance in the variety, amount and combination of foods is key. “The holidays are a time of temptation when things can easily get off balance,” said Lovejoy. “With a little planning and by paying attention to both purchases and what you are adding to dishes, you can achieve both a fun and festive holiday along with a healthier season.” 

To learn more about making lasting changes to improve your heart health, visit

MultiCare Health System is a proud local sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement.  

Additional resources:


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookX or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. In Washington, find us at, on Facebook, X and Instagram


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For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)