Clean Ingredient Swaps for Your Favorite Holiday Recipes

Many traditional holiday recipes, often passed down from mom and grandma, feature more than a few not-so-clean ingredients. Here are some easy ways to make sure you're feeding yourself and your family the absolute best this season.
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Many traditional holiday recipes, often passed down from mom and grandma, feature more than a few not-so-clean ingredients. Here are some easy ways to make sure you're feeding yourself and your family the absolute best this season.

‘Tis the season for holiday parties and get-togethers aplenty, which can lead to overindulging and a few unwanted pounds by the time the new year rolls around. Don’t give up those dishes you look forward to all year when a few clean ingredient modifications can make your appetizers, mains and desserts a little bit lighter without sacrificing flavor.

Try these six clean ingredient swaps in your favorite recipes or some of ours.

Instead of mayo, try mashed avocado

With more potassium than a banana and a host of essential vitamins, avocados are also teaming with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. If your recipe calls for mayo, substitute the same amount mashed avocado in its place. Try whipping up our Avocado Egg Salad for your next holiday potluck.

Instead of regular pasta, try brown rice pasta

Whether you’re cooking for a gluten-sensitive friend or just want to serve up a little more fiber with dinner, try swapping out regular (semolina) pasta for brown rice pasta. It cooks in the same amount of time as regular pasta though some brands recommend rinsing brown rice pasta with cool water after it’s cooked, so check the package for best results. For a quick and warm weeknight dish, try our Thai Coconut Shrimp with Brown Rice Pasta.

Instead of white sugar, try pure maple syrup

There is way too much refined white sugar in the average American diet. Opt for a natural sweetener by replacing the white stuff in your sweet treats with pure maple syrup. For each cup of sugar in cooking applications, simply use ¾ cup of maple syrup instead. If you’re baking, use the same ratio but reduce the other liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons for each cup of maple syrup substituted. For a clean chocolate dessert option that will impress your guests, check out our Chocolate Caramel Slices.

Instead of cow’s milk, try unsweetened plain almond milk

Sensitive to dairy? You aren’t alone. In fact, about 65% of us have trouble digesting lactose. While most traditional baked goods call for some form of milk or cream, there is no shortage of dairy alternatives out there. For all of your holiday treats that require cow’s milk, substitute the same amount of unsweetened plain almond milk. Start those long holiday weekends off right by fueling up with these delicious Lemon Chia Pancakes, which use almond milk as a moistener.

Learn how to make your own almond milk! 

Instead of vegetable oil, try coconut oil

For your frying needs, pass on refined vegetable oil which contains large amounts of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and try coconut oil. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a type of healthy saturated fat that may help increase the amount of “good”HDL cholesterol in your body. Don’t worry –the flavor isn’t going to make your savory dishes taste sweet. For an easy, homemade snack, use coconut oil to make this Herbed Parmesan Popcorn with Brazil Nuts. You won’t feel the least bit guilty while you and the family munch on this while watching your favorite holiday movies.

Instead of store-bought salad dressing, try olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Store-bought salad dressing is highly processed and typically full of excess salt, which can serve up way over the recommended 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Instead of store-bought, try a little extra-virgin olive oil with balsamic or red wine vinegar or this clean, fast and easy homemade Avocado Lime Dressing over lettuce, black beans and roasted vegetables.

Learn how to make your own easy mason jar dressings!