Simplify Your Holiday Feast

1 year 2 months ago
Posted under Holidays, Nutrition

Holidays are usually merry and bright, but cancer treatments can cast a shadow on the holiday cheer.  You may still crave the taste, look, or smells of your favorite holiday foods, but you may not have the energy to put in the effort required to throw a holiday feast. Due to side effects, you may not be able to eat the same foods you typically enjoy this time of year. Or, maybe, you are a caregiver or friend preparing a meal or food gift for a cancer survivor. Either way, there are some simple food substitutions you can make to keep the holiday spirit alive even during cancer treatments.  

Holiday Meal Substitutions

Cranberry Sauce: Think outside the cranberry sauce bowl. Try a cranberry salad tossed with lettuce, spinach, pecans, and mandarin oranges. If on a liquid or digestive diet, sip cranberry juice. Make a cranberry sorbet by freezing together cranberry juice, yogurt, and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. Bake a cranberry cake by adding 1 cup of fresh cranberries to your cake batter. Top off a sweet potato casserole with a cranberry topping made from brown sugar and healthy margarine.

Roasted Turkey: Are you tired of wrestling with the big bird? Look for smaller turkey breasts, pre-sliced turkey at the deli, or chopped turkey. Use these smaller turkey pieces in your favorite recipes like baked turkey, turkey casseroles, or open-faced turkey sandwiches on your favorite artisan bread. You can even make a turkey soup if you’re having digestive issues.

Sweet Potato Casserole: If complicated casseroles with a grocery basket of ingredients are a hassle, then it’s time to simplify. Cook a few sweet potatoes in your slow-cooker along with other vegetables like green beans, onions, carrots, and turnips and add a small turkey breast.  This way your entire meal can cook in one dish!

Pecan Pie: If nuts are off your menu this year, try a fruit or custard pie. Apple or peach pies with cinnamon and nutmeg can’t be beat for holiday flavor! Or, try a low-fiber pie like vanilla custard or chocolate pie with whipped topping to help with digestion.  You can even peruse the frozen food or bakery section at your grocery to get ideas.

Cocktails: Want to add some bubbles to your celebration? Try sparkling red or white grape juice. You can also mix a clear soda with your favorite juice such as cherry, apple, or cranberry. Add some crushed ice or fresh cranberry or a lime slice to add festive color and texture.

What are your favorite swaps or substitutions during Christmas and New Year celebrations?

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN