8 ways to hack your holiday recipes

American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good™ offers simple swaps for healthier holidays

November 01, 2018 Categories: Program News

DALLAS, Nov. 1, 2018 — Hacking a few of your traditional recipes this holiday season is smart for your heart. To help, the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good™ is providing its latest recipes and science-backed health tips.

The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, will host Eat Smart Month activities throughout November, which is known as Eat Smart Month.

“We want to help people overcome their nutrition struggles and pave the way for a healthful festive season,” said Annessa Chumbley, a registered dietitian and American Heart Association volunteer. “Instead of looking at holiday eating as a wellness obstacle, we can look at it as a chance to eat smart.”

If you’re tripped up with a dietary dilemma, Chumbley suggests taking small science-backed steps and avoiding one common mistake: putting good habits on hold.

“Don’t promise yourself a January health reboot in November,” Chumbley said. “Instead, celebrate the season with no regrets by enjoying special occasion foods in moderation and swapping in healthier substitutions when you have control over the menu.”

To be at your peak this holiday season, try these eight American Heart Association-approved recipe hacks and download the Holiday Healthy Eating Guide at  heart.org/eatsmartmonth.

  1. Look for “low-sodium” veggies or try the frozen varieties. About 70 percent of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed, prepackaged or restaurant foods. Reading labels is a simple way to net healthy results, Chumbley said. “Compare the nutrition facts on similar foods, like cans of green beans, and go for the one with less sodium.”

  2. Replace salt with herbs and spices. “Lemon juice, citrus zest or hot chilies can add extra flavor without the added sodium,” Chumbley said.

  3. Choose canned fruits packed in juice or water rather than syrup. “Fruit is plenty sweet without added sugars,” Chumbley said. “Speaking of fruit, don’t throw away those unloved, overly-ripe bananas. They are perfect to bake with, adding just the right amount of moisture and sweetness.”

  4. Swap non-fat, plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. “You’ll be surprised how sneaky this switch is when it comes to texture and flavor. Be sure you choose non-fat, plain Greek,” Chumbley said.

  5. Instead of butter, use a healthier vegetable oil or substitute equal parts unsweetened applesauce when baking. “Cooking with unsweetened applesauce is one of my favorite recipe hacks, and I always keep it on hand for baking,” Chumbley said.

  6. Sneak in a vegetable like pureed sweet potatoes, carrots or cauliflower to boost nutrition. Chumbley recommends keeping frozen cubes of purred vegetables in the freezer so they’re ready to go.

  7. Go for half and half — half wheat and half white flour, that is. “Whole grains are a great nutritional boost and mixing the flours helps disguise the swap,” Chumbley said.

  8. Sip smarter by adding seasonal fruit to old fashioned H2O. “There are plenty of ways to jazz up your drink without adding alcohol,” Chumbley said. “Try infusing cranberries, pomegranate arils or orange slices into sparkling water.”

Upcoming event:

The American Heart Association, @AHAlivehealthy, is hosting a #DietDilemma Twitter chat 1-2pm CT on Eat Smart Day, Nov. 7. 

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries:

Jayme Sandberg: 214-706-2169; jayme.sandberg@heart.org

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

heart.org and strokeassociation.org