6 healthy twists to lighten your favorite holiday foods

Muuna’s Cranberry Cottage Cheesecake

It’s hard not to dread the holidays if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. Heavy meals packed with carbs and creams are often followed by sugary treats — leaving you ready to crash in a house full of guests. On the other hand, munching on a simple salad while loved ones dig into each delicious holiday dish leaves you feeling unsatisfied and your mouth watering.

Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your favorite traditional dishes to stay healthy and energized this holiday season. Avoid the post-holiday slump by trying these tasty — and nutritious — holiday twists.

1. Try low-fat cottage cheese to cook creamier lasagna

Lasagna is a great meal to plan for the holidays because you can assemble all of the ingredients days before you have to host. When guests arrive, simply take the pan out of the freezer, put it in the oven and enjoy catching up with your loved ones! To make this convenient and tasty lasagna healthier, swap out the ricotta for cottage cheese. Muuna’s Lowfat Plain Cottage Cheese is uniquely rich and creamy yet has less fat and more protein than lowfat ricotta cheese. Plus, the creamier taste will have everyone asking for seconds!

2. Use chicken or vegetable stock for a low-fat gravy alternative

Gravy is traditionally made using fat drippings from turkey, and while delicious, this style of gravy is high in cholesterol and fat. A much healthier option is to use chicken or vegetable stock to make your gravy instead. Add whole-wheat flour to thicken the stock and spices for taste.

3. Swap out your traditional mashed potatoes for butternut squash

Add more nutrients and color to your holiday spread with a comforting mashed butternut squash. Butternut squash is a slightly lower-carb option and is a good source of vitamin C and E. Be sure to top your mashed squash with a touch of cinnamon for extra holiday spice!

4. Replace morning baked treats with the perfect grab-and-go breakfast

Skip the coffee cake and cinnamon rolls and wake up to a protein-packed breakfast to fuel your morning: creamy Muuna cottage cheese with real pieces of fruit in single-serve cups. Packed with 15 grams of protein, only 9 g sugar and 130 calories in nine craveable flavors including strawberry, black cherry and mango, it's a great way to start your day.

5. Sauté a delicious alternative to green bean casserole

You don’t have to dress your green beans with cream of mushroom soup and cheese to enjoy these veggies as a holiday side dish. Instead, sauté your green beans to maintain their crisp texture and add garlic and lemon zest for flavor. Top the green beans with shaved almonds and breadcrumbs for a crunchy twist!

6. Try this lighter and creamier cheesecake

Even the holiday’s most decadent desserts can be upgraded with a healthy twist simply by using cottage cheese instead of cream cheese. This simple swap significantly reduces fat. Try Muuna’s creamy Cranberry Cottage Cheesecake recipe below to lighten this sweet treat and enjoy a healthier holiday season. Each slice has a whopping 13 grams of protein!

Muuna’s Cranberry Cottage Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Cranberry Compote Ingredients:

1 bag fresh cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water

Crust Ingredients:

2 sleeves graham crackers

1/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:

1 – 16 oz. container Classic Plain Muuna cottage cheese

1 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Cranberry Compote:

1. In a small saucepan mix everything together. Bring to a boil and then turn to low. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. 2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Crust:

1. Place the graham crackers into your food processor. Pulse until you have small crumbs. 2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. 3. In a large bowl mix together the crumbs, melted butter, sugar and pumpkin pie spice. 4. Spray a glass pie plate with cooking spray. 5. Press the crust mixture into the pie pan.

Cheesecake Filling:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. 2. In a blender, blend together the cottage cheese and Greek yogurt until it is smooth. 3. In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, flour, maple syrup and vanilla extract. 4. Empty the contents of the blender into a larger bowl and then add the mixture from the smaller bowl. 5. Fold everything together. 6. Pour the cheesecake filling into the pie pan. 7. Bake for one hour or until the cheesecake is set. 8. Allow to fully cool before topping with the cranberry compote. 9. Chill in the refrigerator before serving!

Nutrition Facts

Recipe makes: 8 servings; Calories: 327; Protein: 13 g; Carbohydrates: 42 g; Fat: 14 g; Fiber: 5 g

(Image Courtesy of Jessica Weinberg)

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