One of the best things about the holidays is sharing some of our favorite foods with the people we care about. But sometimes, those classic holiday dishes can be hiding some pretty unsavory secrets — like heaping helpings of fat, sugar, sodium and more.
That’s why we gathered some of our favorite healthy peanut recipes that give you a taste of the season (along with protein, fiber, and hard-to-get vitamins and minerals), with tips on how to focus on making healthier choices. You can check out a full list of our holiday recipes here.
And don’t forget — peanuts can help you enjoy great benefits for this and every season, like lower blood pressure, protection against diseases like cancer, and support for brain and heart health.
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So what are we waiting for? Let’s dig in!
Healthy Alternative Appetizers
Try Out: Sweet and Spicy Peanuts
The holidays aren’t typically known for their spicy side, but that’s what we love about this recipe: it’s a simple preparation that stands out, while giving guests something more substantial to nibble on. Loaded with protein and fiber, it’s sure to keep guests satisfied until the main course is ready. Plus, leftovers can be stored in the pantry or freezer for your next gathering.
Better Watch Out: White Dinner Rolls
We all love carbs, but it’s probably best to choose breads and rolls that are made of whole grains. Otherwise, refined grains like white flour can spike your blood sugar and deplete your energy.
Try Out: Peanut Peach Salsa
With fresh fruit and a kick of heat, this simple recipe is quick to make and may disappear just as quickly. Serve it up with tortilla chips or sliced veggies as a delicious dip, or use it as a robust topping to spice up your favorite grilled chicken or fish dish.
Better Watch Out: Cheesy or creamy spinach dips
Although spinach dips contain veggies and are commonly served as appetizers, some recipes can be high in calories from the added mayonnaise, cheese, and/or cream. This can leave you full before dinner and can also make it easier to overeat. It’s best to avoid the heaping holiday helping. If you cannot find healthier versions of this family favorite, you’ll want to be more reserved on your serving.
Healthy Holiday Side Swaps
Try Out: Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin-Citrus Peanut Sauce
Roasting vegetables doesn’t just make your house smell amazing — it’s also one of the healthiest preparations around!
And considering how fast this dish from our friend Star Infinite Food is likely to disappear, you’ll be thankful to have that delicious aroma to remember it by.
Packed with healthy fats and plant-based protein from peanuts and increased fiber from cauliflower for digestion, this side will stand head and shoulders above the standard recipes.
Better Watch Out: Potatoes au Gratin
Be careful — there are healthier ways to make it, but some versions of this dish offer only cheese sauce, butter, and more cheese on top. Depending on its preparation, you may want to opt for a smaller serving size to limit your intake.
Try Out: Smoked Peanut Broccoli Salad
Combining peanuts with other healthy foods in your diet can have what’s called a ‘synergistic effect’ — meaning that eating more of them together can enhance their effects. It’s why diets like the Mediterranean Diet, which combines fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts are championed by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a healthy eating pattern. And it’s just one of the reasons we love this recipe from Stirlist, which combines crunchy peanuts with broccoli florets in a salad that seems too good to be healthy.
Better Watch Out: Green Bean Casserole
While green bean casseroles are a great way to add veggies to your plate, some recipes could be modified by limiting the amount of cream, cheese, and fried onions that are added. Try cutting these ingredients in half. If you aren’t sure of the ingredients used, your best bet is just to be mindful of your serving size.
Healthy Holiday Desserts
Try Out: Pumpkin Mousse with Peanut Praline Topping
With the flavor of real pumpkin and the satisfying crunch of peanuts, this mousse only feels decadent — because surprisingly, it’s also a lusciously low-calorie dessert! Plus, with the combined power of peanuts and pumpkin, you can enjoy an increased intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help support your health and fight against disease.
Better Watch Out: Ambrosia Salad
There’s fruit on top, there’s salad in the name, how could it go wrong? Well, ambrosia salads can be jam-packed with sugar from syrup, whipped cream and marshmallows. Unless your recipe is a healthier version, this is another one you’ll want to keep to a half serving.
Try Out: No Bake Peanut Butter Pie
If you like peanut butter cups and hate to bake, Star Infinite Food has good news. This lighter take on an indulgent dessert packs plenty of hunger-satisfying plant protein, while still somehow remaining dairy-free, refined sugar-free, gluten-free AND vegan friendly! (Plus, who can resist that brown rice crisp and dark chocolate crust?)
(Learn more about the benefits of peanuts in plant-based diets, like lower BMI and prevention against diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.)
Better Watch Out: Fruit Cake
When choosing fruit cakes, you’ll want to make sure the recipe contains an abundance of fruits. Unfortunately, some recipes are loaded with sugar and contain hardly any fruit at all. If your fruit cake recipe is high in sugar and low in fruits, try modifying it to create a healthier option. Otherwise, your best course might be to go with a small portion.
Eat Lite and Be Merry!
If you love indulging in the holidays, don’t worry — with the power of peanuts, you can enjoy an amazing spread that’s sure to please guests, and also make your body happy.
For more recipes and light cooking ideas, including diabetes and celiac-friendly cookbooks, be sure to visit our recipe page!