TCM Reader Poll: What is Your Healthy Holiday Cooking Secret?

Stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie – the struggle is real this time of year. We’re bringing you just about as many healthful holiday recipes as you could hope to fit on your table this year, but, truly, we’re not satisfied ’til there’s a healthy hack for every shape and size of family gathering going down this month! Keep up with us ’til Turkey Day for even more recipes – and search our archive for a few classics (like this vegan spinach dip!)

This year, we also called in some back-up from our resourceful readers – we knew you guys would have a couple of tricks up your sleeves! And indeed you did. Last week we put out the call for healthy holiday cooking tips and we’re loving the response. Here are a few of our top picks from post-dinner bitters to flourless pumpkin pie. Take note of  few and leave us your own in the comments below!

Oogling these copper measuring cups pictured above? Us too. These beauties can be found through the holidays at West Elm.

Try a little of everything (even pie!!) to taste all the flavors and savor them but don’t over do it on any one dish! Also focus on who you are cooking with and for, food brings people together and that’s the best part of the holidays!

I love to bake/cook all of my family favorites. I just use less sugar and pick all organic ingredients. Family recipes are a major tradition but traditions can always be tweaked to keep up with the times

Water! Drinking it all day long. Then I’m too full to overindulge in plates full of yummy Holiday food.

We swap refined sugar with maple syrup wherever possible. Plus it makes everything taste a little cozier!

Drink warm green tea after eating. Helps digest and compress – the reason for the season!

Roasting!! Every vegetable, and so much cauliflower

editor’s note: @terricastro You’ll love our recent story on how to roast your favorite veggies to perfection. Check it out here!

Swapping butter with olive oil in some cookie & cake recipes. So good.

Texture, Color, and Made with Love. Digestion is first stimulated with our eyes, and from the vibration of our food. When made with love, that energy is absorbed, resulting in more optimally digested meals. And when everything prepared is vibrant, full of color and texture, made with seasonal ingredients, and plated beautifully, one can’t help but to feel better while eating.

Keep it simple! That goes for making the meal and what you put on your plate. Protein + complex carb + veggies = roasted turkey with dried cranberry and balsamic. Brussels sprouts and mashed chili cinnamon sweet potatoes. Holiday food is pretty healthy until you start adding all the extras (extra fat you normally wouldn’t use and cups of sugar you’re only having because it’s a holiday).

Instead of using flour, I make my own flour out of whole grain oats…gluten free!!

Homemade turkey or chicken stock made the Sunday before thanksgiving. I use it for stuffing, gravy and basting the bird. Whole Foods sells turkey wings and legs and it’s easy to make and way tastier and healthier than the stuff that comes in a box.

Use spices! There are so many flavor combinations out there! And if you use them right, you don’t need added sugar.

You can cut the fat by half (or more) in mashed potatoes and still have it taste good.

Flourless Pumpkin Pie with FRESH pumpkin. Don’t kill people with heavy dessert and don’t add more carbs to the meal than necessary. My pie uses pecans, dates and butter only in crust and the filling is super light, fresh with citrus zest, and not too sweet.

Herbal bitters! Take a few drops 15 minutes before a meal (or make your own delicious bitters cordial to share!) to stimulate the release of digestive enzymes and enhance digestion. 2. I love using food based sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar or dates) in place of all of the processed sugars for desserts. 3. Always eat consciously and gratefully. For me this means putting my fork down, or taking a breath between every bite, chewing thoroughly, and never placing any negative feelings (like guilt!) on my food or my body.

Cook EVERYTHING from scratch!

editor’s note: @elondianise Check out some of our favorite healthy holiday recipes here!

Practice mindful eating. Engage the 5 senses before beginning a meal to ensure that I am present. Check in with hunger/fullness cues often so I don’t overindulge. Remind myself that there will likely be leftovers- it’s not a “last supper.”

Dishes can still be incredible without adding any sugar whatsoever even if the recipes call for it. I make a KILLER GF stuffing and dairy free green beans mushroom dish.

Making loads of veggie side dishes and grain salads to fill up on, then I can still enjoy some indulgence but in smaller amounts.

This may be geared more toward the mental health part of healthy holiday cooking: CLEAN AS YOU COOK. Cleanup at the end of the meal is much less of an overwhelming chore if you use the space and tools wisely and clean as you cook!

We love hearing from you! See all our reader polls here. Then your best tips for how you stay healthy during the holidays, below…

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