The holiday season is filled with family gatherings and friendly celebrations that come with a lot of tasty, filling, and — let’s face it — not-so-healthy foods. While indulging is perfectly okay for the soul, it can wreak havoc on our system in the short and long term. If you want to be kind to your body during festivities, making sure you don’t spike up your blood sugar levels is one of the best things you can do. Apart from headaches, tiredness, and general inability to focus, hyperglycemia can also mess with your hormones, lead to weight gain, and increase your chances of getting diabetes. However, avoiding what causes these symptoms may seem easier said than done! We get it. After all, if sugar and spice make everything nice, sugar and fat make holiday dinners extra nice.
That said, we do believe (and know!) that certain foods that are already part of the celebrations can significantly help lower your blood sugar levels. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, you should load up your plate with these 7 delicious holiday-friendly foods and recipes from the Food Monster App that will make sure you start the new year feeling your best!
Lentil Loaf With Smoked Paprika Glaze
Packed with B-vitamins, iron, selenium, and essential amino acids, beans, and lentils are not only nutritious but also great for stabilizing your blood sugar levels this holiday season. Their high content in fiber and protein slows down the release of sugars in the bloodstream and ensures that we feel satisfied which helps in not over-indulging in sweets once mealtime is over.
Not sure how legumes fit in your holiday feasts? This Lentil Loaf With Smoked Paprika Glaze (pictured above), this Lentil Loaf and Celery Root Mash, these BBQ Lentil Balls, and this Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie are all festive and delicious recipes that will convince anyone to ditch the old-fashioned meatloaf!
2. Whole Grains
If you’ve been looking for the perfect side dish to fill your plate with to help stabilize your blood sugar, whole grains are where it’s at! Hearty, filling, and versatile, whole grains are a good source of amino acids and fiber but also contain nutrients such as magnesium and chromium that are involved with regulating glucose in our body and preventing sugar cravings.
Want to get on the whole grains bandwagon this holiday season? You won’t regret it with this delicious Farro Risotto (pictured above), this Wild Rice Stuffing with Cranberry, Apricot and Scallion, this Mushroom and Butternut Squash Millet Pilaf, and this Stuffed Squash With Quinoa Pilaf. You can also check out these 15 Rich, Creamy, and Dairy-Free Risottos For Your Holiday Dinner.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato Bites With Guacamole and Cauliflower
Moist, rich, and healthy, sweet potatoes are a must-have for your holiday table. As an appetizer such as these Sweet Potato Bites With Guacamole and Cauliflower, pictured above, or as a side like this Shepherdess Pie, sweet potatoes are a great option when it comes to managing your blood sugar because they are lower on the glycemic index compared with white potatoes. This means that they won’t spike your blood sugar as much. Little tip: leave the skin on as the extra fiber also helps slow down the sugars and their effect on your body.
Want to find more sweet potato recipes that are appropriate for the holidays? We suggest giving these Holiday Hasselback Sweet Potatoes, this Holiday Sweet Potato Bake, this Easy Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Topping, and this Baked Sweet Potato With Chive Cream and Cucumber Salad a try.
Kale, Beet, and Pecan Salad With Ginger Dressing
Eating a side of beets with your holiday meal will do more than just add a beautiful splash of color to your plate, it will help prevent your blood sugar from spiking. Studies show that consuming beetroot can improve insulin response and endothelial functions due to their content in bioactive compounds such as nitrates and polyphenols.
We suggest including this delicious earthy root in your holiday feast by making this Kale, Beet, and Pecan Salad With Ginger Dressing (pictured above), this Roasted Beetroot and Ginger Chutney, this Roasted Beets and Kale Salad with Horseradish Crema and Hazelnuts, and this Golden Beet Panzanella.
Festive Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries are a mainstay during the holidays and that’s a good thing as these red berries add a festive pop of color and contribute to stable blood sugar levels. Phytochemicals found in cranberries such as anthocyanins and other flavonoids are thought to contribute to decreased lipid oxidation and glycosylation which are both processes directly linked with how our body metabolizes sugars. This effect brings lower fasting glucose levels and a diminution in diabetes symptoms.
Need ideas on how to use cranberries? Check out this Festive Cranberry Sauce (pictured above), this Spiced Orange Cranberry Sauce, this Raw Cranberry Chutney, and this Wild Rice, Cranberry, and Pine Nut Stuffing. You can also Go Beyond the Sauce! With These 10 Amazing Recipes With Cranberries!
Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower With Maple-Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Though they are small, these red rubies pack a lot of benefits when it comes to our metabolism and blood sugar levels. Pomegranates contain a range of antioxidant compounds that have been found to decrease significantly fasting blood glucose levels. Punicalagin and ellagic, gallic, oleanolic, ursolic, and uallic acids, especially, have positive effects on biochemical processes related to markers of diabetes. Whether you’re diabetic or not, adding a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds to your side dishes, mains, or desserts this holiday season is bound to be a good idea!
If you’re looking for creative ways to include pomegranate in your recipes, check out this Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower With Maple-Pomegranate Vinaigrette (pictured above), these Spiralized Butternut Squash Noodles With Asparagus, Cashews, and Pomegranate, this Pomegranate and Hazelnut Moroccan Grain Salad, this Warm Fennel and Pomegranate Salad, and this Spaghetti Squash With Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate. You can also try out this Pomegranate Coconut Panna Cotta With a Chocolate Balsamic Reduction and this scrumptious Raw Mint Pomegranate Cake for a healthy treat that won’t spike your blood sugar.
7. Green Vegetables
Cranberry Almond Green Beans
Although their color fits with Christmas decor, green vegetables aren’t typically the star of the plate when it comes to holiday dishes. That’s a shame if you ask us! Not only are all green vegetables packed with beneficial fiber but they also contain vitamins and minerals that help manage our blood sugar levels. Spinach and other leafy greens, for example, contain a high amount of antioxidants called polyphenols, vitamin C, and magnesium which all contribute to a healthy sugar metabolism.
Want to find festive recipe ideas featuring vibrant green veggies? We suggest making these Cranberry Almond Green Beans (pictured above), these Savoy Cabbage Rolls, this Kale and Pumpkin Salad, this Snap Pea Salad With Almonds in an Herbed Vinaigrette, and these Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Maple-Mustard Glaze. You can also try any of these delicious 25 Hearty Winter Vegan Salad Recipes.
Recommended Resources and Recipes
Roasted Cranberry Stuffed Squash/One Green Planet
Worried about eating healthfully throughout the holiday season and managing your blood sugar in general? Here are a few articles that might interest you:
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects.
For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster App which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some resources to get you started:
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