Superfood Swaps for Holiday Classics

Upgrade your celebratory meals this season with nutrient-packed ingredients that won’t compromise tradition — and may even ramp up the flavors on your holiday table.

  • Holiday gatherings are all about relationships. Why not celebrate your relationship with the Earth by honoring seasonal, whole foods?
    Photo by iStock/MilosStankovic
  • Swap that holiday turkey with affordable, nutritious and juicy pastured chicken.
    Photo by iStock/SilviaJansen
  • Combine any proportion of healthy potato varieties with nutrious cauliflower for a delicious mashed side dish.
    Photo by Erin Kunkel; courtesy Danielle Walker’s "Against All Grain Celebrations"
  • Glaze fiber-packed vegetables with sweet maple syrup for a healthful alternative to candied sweet potatoes.
    Photo by Jennifer McGruther; courtesy "The Nourished Kitchen"
  • There are plenty of ways to add superfoods in your favorite holiday treats without changing the entire recipe.
    Photo by iStock/marilyna
  • Make a tart with rich dark chocolate, coconut sugar and almond flour that will blow any pie out of the water!
    Photo by Erin Kunkel; courtesy Danielle Walker’s "Against All Grain Celebrations"
  • Ditch canned cranberry sauce for the rich, tart taste of fresh cranberries in chutney.
    Photo by Courtesy Gentl & Hyers Photography
  • Try almond meal for the pie crust.
    Photo by iStock/PicturePartners
  • Turn a simple cheeseball into a superfood by coating it in berries, nuts and herbs.
    Photo by iStock/StephanieFrey

Whether you celebrate with family or close friends, holiday gatherings are an opportunity to honor our most cherished relationships. And the feasts that surround this time of year give us the chance to relish another of our most important relationships: with the Earth. These meals were traditionally a way to give thanks for a successful harvest and to pack in some last indulgence before the start of the long winter. And they are often when we bring out our favorite traditional recipes and cooking techniques.

One way to ramp up our recipes’ celebration of the Earth’s ability to nourish us is by packing them with seasonal whole foods. Nature doesn’t deliver cranberries in a gelatinous can-shaped mold — only factories do that. Meanwhile, a simple, made-from-scratch cranberry sauce offers much more in the way of flavor, texture and nutrition. The recipes in this article aim to bump up the nutrient factor and health profile of holiday favorite dishes, but read on for tips to incorporate more bounty-celebrating superfoods into any meal.

What are Superfoods?

Superfoods are nature’s most potent medicines. These foods are called super because they have distinct compounds with documented health benefits (such as the ability to slow tumor growth), or because they are especially nutrient-dense per calorie, delivering high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, phytochemicals and other powerful compounds. These critical nutrients — many of which are deficient in today’s diet — have wide-ranging benefits, from improving heart health, detoxification, sleep and weight loss to mitigating anxiety and depression. They also keep us satisfied and energized.

It’s easy to incorporate a whole slew of superfoods into holiday meals. Simply ask yourself these questions before preparing a dish: What superfoods would enhance the flavors of this dish? For the same quantity of food, how could I pack in more nutrients? Is there a way to transform this choice into something that gives me energy instead of taking it away?

Eating for wellness is not about deprivation. Self-proclaimed “superfood opportunist” Julie Morris, author of five cookbooks on superfoods, suggests focusing on the beneficial foods you can add to your cooking, rather than on what to avoid. Try to replace ingredients of little nutritive value with nutritious choices.

The most basic and powerful superfood change we can make is simply to cook with as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible. Whereas whole foods give our bodies the nutrients they need to fight inflammation and disease, processed foods do just the opposite. Physician Aviva Romm says highly processed foods can cause a litany of health problems, including gut lining damage and impairment to DNA, and they can confuse the immune system over what to attack, leading to chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease.

11/17/2017 9:10:38 AM

this would be much more helpful, if there were actual recipes! Recipes have the amount of ingredient used!!! Your article is pretty much worthless without that!

mary ellenm
11/17/2017 7:21:17 AM

Miss the recipes with list of ingredients and amounts.

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