The holiday season can seem like one indulgence after another. In fact, many of the foods we love as part of our celebrations are so nutritious, you can call them “superfoods.” These popular ingredients are rich in essential vitamins and minerals while fitting seamlessly into your Nutrisystem plan. They can be a healthy part of your weight loss diet AND your holiday feast. Here are 10 holiday superfoods that you can enjoy this season and fresh ideas for using them.
Why: The centerpiece of the holiday meal, roasted turkey breast is a PowerFuel with over 25 grams of protein in a three-ounce serving and less than two grams of fat. Seasoning your turkey with herbs such as sage and thyme bumps up the flavor without adding calories.
Try: Your family and guests will rave about Instant Pot Holiday Turkey Breast because it comes out tender and flavorful every time. This entrée will be ready in an hour, so you’ll love that you won’t have to spend all day in the kitchen preparing it.
Why: The bright orange squash is naturally low in calories and fat, but high in fiber and a wide range of valuable nutrients. It is especially rich in vitamin A, which is linked to a reduced risk of obesity, according to a report in the journal Nutrients.
Try: Cream Cheese Pumpkin Roll is a pumpkin-based dessert that’s as appealing to the eye as it is to the taste buds. The moist cake is filled with sweet maple vanilla cream. You can serve it as a healthy finish to a holiday meal or a tempting snack for a coffee break.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Why: SmartCarbs such as sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and critical nutrients. Fiber can promote healthy digestion and may even decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Sweet potatoes also contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may decrease the risk of different types of cancer and promote eye health. Sweet potatoes are a traditional side dish because they are filling, flavorful and versatile.
Try: Instead of the standard holiday sweet potatoes dish made with marshmallows and other sugary ingredients, treat your guests and family to Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes. Roasting sweet potato slices in the oven brings out their natural sweetness and turns them delightfully crispy.
Why: The little red berries pack a lot of nutrition into a small package, including anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that can protect against inflammation and certain diseases. Cranberries also contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E and manganese.
Try: Take the family favorite side dish to the next level with Slow Cooker Cranberry Applesauce. It’s full of authentic flavor, perfectly sweet, and a colorful addition to your plate of holiday superfoods.
5. Brussels Sprouts
Why: The little cabbages reach their peak of freshness during the holiday season, and they may even be available still on their stalks, which helps to keep them moist until you’re ready to eat them. Like their cousins broccoli and kale, Brussels sprouts are among the most nutrient-dense foods, which means they come with a high concentration of vitamins and minerals but very few calories. They provide you with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and plenty of fiber.
Try: With just a handful of ingredients and five simple steps, you can make Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Mustard Glaze, a flavorful side dish that will make your feast just a little more elegant.
Why: You get lots of healthy fats from walnuts, pecans, almonds and other nuts. Freshly harvested nuts are abundant in autumn, so they’re an ideal addition to the appetizers for your holiday feast. Just be sure to get them dry-roasted and lightly salted so you don’t get a lot of extra calories or sodium.
Try: Our 3-Step Cinnamon Pecan Cookies will be a big hit in your office cookie swap or on your holiday dessert tray. They’re easy to bake and each batch is ready in about 20 minutes.
Why: The old adage goes that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but it might be more accurate to say that an “apple a day makes the extra pounds go away.” The classic fall fruit is not only rich in fiber and nutrients, but eating apples regularly has also been associated with weight loss, according to a report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Try: Instant Pot Apple Cake lets the fruit take center stage, enhanced by spices, orange zest and a bit of natural sweetener. Made in the handy Instant Pot, this cake comes out moist and flavorful every time.
Why: In recent years, this seasonal fruit has attracted the attention of nutrition researchers because it has been found to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. What’s more, “positive effects on fat reduction have been shown using the pomegranate and its extracts,” says an article in the journal Nutrition. Pomegranate arils are the edible part of pomegranates, and they are a colorful and flavorful addition to salads, sauces and baked goods.
Try: You can enjoy a sophisticated drink at holiday parties without the excess calories that come with alcohol. Sparkling Pomegranate Holiday Punch has the fizz and flavor pop you want from a special beverage, but no added sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.
Why: The flavor of cinnamon enhances so many dishes, from the first course of the meal to the last. According to experts at Cleveland Clinic, a compound called “cinnamaldehyde” gives the spice its unique flavor and has been linked to reduced inflammation. Research also shows that cinnamon may help reduce blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Try: When you serve Skinny Pumpkin Biscuits with Honey Cinnamon Butter, your holiday meal becomes extra festive. The flaky biscuits feature the flavors of real pumpkin and pie spices, while the homemade cinnamon butter adds the tasty finishing touch.
Why: Ginger is touted as a home remedy for upset stomachs, indigestion and nausea. The spice has also been shown to be anti-inflammatory, potentially helping with arthritis symptoms and sore muscles. Ginger adds a subtle but distinctive spark of flavor to many holiday dishes but adds no calories or fats. That’s why it’s a Free food when you’re following a Nutrisystem weight loss plan.
Try: Put out a tray of Ginger Cacao Bites and watch these little treats disappear. You make them in a food processor with a few ingredients like dates, almonds and chocolaty cacao powder. Just be sure to set aside a few for yourself to enjoy before they’re all gone.