As a naturopathic health specialist, Dr. Juli Mazi ND, uses an integrative system of medicine science to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases of the human body and mind. Using medical science and time-honored traditions, she has helped many patients achieve better health using holistic treatments and proactive wellness plans with the goal of preventing disease and injury in lieu of.
Nutrition plays a critical role in how she treats her patients, using vitamins, minerals, herbs, homeopathy and nutrition to build stronger immune systems and increase the body’s responses during chronic infection. Since the holiday season is a season of food, family, and friendship, what better time to start making healthier food choices that can lead to a healthier mind, body, and soul?
Eat This, Not That!
The phrase ‘Eat This, Not That’ started as the title of a successful book franchise, but today it is used quite commonly to clarify healthy food swaps. Dr. Mazi ND recommends swapping out any foods that are high in salt, sugar, and/or unhealthy carbs or fats, and foods that are highly processed. Whole foods which are unadulterated fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, meat, fish and eggs should always be the primary sources of nutrition, even during the holiday seasons!
3 Healthy and Quick Food Swaps
1. Make better salad choices
To begin, swap out iceberg and even Romaine lettuce for darker green choices such as watercress, kale, baby spinach, Arugula, or Swiss Chard.
Pack in some nutrition-dense baby sprouts, which are 1/8–2 inch pickings from sprouted grains, bean and pea sprouts, nut and seed sprouts, and of course, sprouted vegetables such as radish, broccoli, beet, or mustard green sprouts.
Get rid of the full-fat salad dressings and create your own signature salad spritz using a base of olive oil, balsamic or red wine vinegar, with a combo of aromatics and herbs such as garlic, sea salt, Dijon mustard, creamy peanut butter, honey, or an Asian spice blend.
2. Easy high-fat food swaps
The holiday is ripe with high-fat recipes. After all, it is the fat in foods that adds that wonderful texture or mouthfeel, a rich smell, and the taste of fatty acids (especially animal fats and saturated fats) that will evoke a unique sensation. But, you can get these same or similar wonderful benefits from low-cholesterol, fatty acids derived from certain, very specific fruits, vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts.
- For a creamy base to a recipe, use chopped walnuts, mushrooms, beans, avocado, or cauliflower
- Replace up to 1/2 the butter in a recipe with high-quality vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil
- Use olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil or avocado oil for sauteed dishes, and safflower oil
- Replace oil-fried foods with foods that are spritzed with a healthy oil and air-fried
3. Yes! You can eliminate processed foods
Make your goal this holiday to swap out as many processed foods as possible. This includes processed meats such as bacon, sausage, or ham, ready-made meals, boxed side dishes, and processed or refined grains. Dr. Juli Mazi ND helps her patients make wellness choices that may include a better usage of time.
Processed or boxed food is a modern concept that was meant to save housewives time in the kitchen. But, with a little prep time, many time-saving food inventions that are typically very high in sodium, fat, added sugars, and nitrates can be replaced. The health risks of highly processed foods include increased cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure risks.
Here are some tips for swapping out processed foods this holiday season:
- Replace refined grains like white pasta, rice, bread, and tortillas for whole-grain versions.
- Swap out your pasta noodles for spiralized zucchini and riced cauliflower instead of white rice.
- Avoid ultra-processed breakfast cereal and opt for oatmeal made with rolled oats with honey and fresh fruit
- Use roasted sweet potatoes instead of mashed, and nuts or seeds instead of croutons
The holiday is all about tradition, and Dr. Mazi ND suggests starting new traditions. Fresh green beans sauteed in olive, sea salt, garlic, and onion can take the place of your grandmother’s green bean casserole. Let’s cheer in the New Year with Almond Milk Nog instead of Egg Nog.
Instead of thick gravies, opt for lighter broths with low sodium and low fat. For adult beverages, sipping red wine which is high in antioxidants and may help raise good HDL cholesterol levels is a better choice over cocktails. Often, making holiday meal substitutes by eliminating processed foods and increasing whole foods is all about time management and prepping days ahead of the big day.