Healthy Holidays, Is It Possible?
With a little planning, the holidays can be a healthy time of year, both mentally and physically. Start by planning ahead for events that you are hosting, and be sure to offer some healthier foods (e.g., vegetables without butter or cream can be seasoned with pepper and lemon). Take the time to plan a healthy meal or snack before attending a holiday party so that you do not arrive hungry (eat a small salad with low-fat dressing or have a sandwich with lots of vegetable toppings, e.g., sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes).
The best approach to preventing "holiday weight gain" is to focus on maintaining your weight by planning your exercise around your holiday events and participating in your regular physical activity routine. Drink plenty of water during the holidays. Some foods are only around during the holidays, which makes them more tempting. We need to plan ahead for these special treats and keep moderation in mind. For example, eggnog is a popular drink during the holiday months. Try a low-fat version or allow yourself one glass and then reduce your intake of other desserts that day. If alcoholic drinks are being served, plan ahead to limit your consumption, or request a non-alcoholic version and save the extra calories for a holiday cookie.
If you are attending a party and bringing a dish, bring a fun and healthy festive salad or a low-fat dessert. For ideas, see the recipes below. Try a few substitutions in your favorite holiday recipe; your family and friends will never know you are keeping an eye out for their health as well as your own. If the recipe calls for any of the following ingredients, try a modification from the list below:
|Cheddar cheese||Low-fat cheddar cheese|
|Broth||Low-sodium broth (one-third less sodium)|
|Salad dressing (oil and vinegar)||Flavored vinegar (tarragon, thyme, basil, or malt)|
|Pork chops||Pork tenderloin|
|Eggs||Egg whites or egg substitutes|
|Sour cream||Low- or non-fat sour cream or plain yogurt|
|Heavy cream||Low-fat cream or skim milk products|
|Whole milk||Non-fat milk|
|Ricotta cheese||Non-fat Ricotta Cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese|
Festive Holiday Salad – Bean Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing
- 2 1/2 cups halved green beans, steamed
- 2 1/2 cups canned garbanzo beans (rinsed)
- 2 1/2 cups canned kidney beans (rinsed)
- 1 1/2 cups canned black beans (rinsed)
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 cup snipped chives
In a large bowl, mix the beans and tomatoes. In a blender, combine the oil, mustard, water, basil, honey, and pepper. Blend/process for 1 minute. Pour over the salad. Sprinkle with the chives. Toss well. For more color, add 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers.
Banana Bread Pudding
- 1/2 cup egg substitute
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup skim milk
- 4 Tbsp. light brown sugar or honey
- 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 slices whole wheat bread, diced
- 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- grated lemon rind (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg substitute and egg whites until well blended. Add the milk, sugar or honey, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the bread and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the bananas and cranberries.
Coat a 1 – 1 1/2 quart casserole with no-stick spray. Add the bread mixture. Place the dish in a larger baking pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the inside pan.
Bake at 350ËšF for 50 minutes. Remove the casserole dish from the water bath and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with lemon rind.