Give the Gift of Good Health
Take a few minutes this holiday season to plan for a healthy holiday. The holidays can create stress on many levels - emotional, physical, and even financial - and caregivers can experience additional stress because they feel that they are not doing enough (http://www.aasa.dshs.wa.gov/). This added stress can take a toll on our overall well-being, which can then lead to "damage control" around the New Year to gain back our strength and health. Therefore this year, take care of yourself and others by sharing the gift of good health with everyone.
Healthy gifts can be affordable and last all year long. Consider healthy bars or snacks that can be prepared and then packaged in fun holiday bags or gift wrap. Consider including a copy of the recipe so that this gift can be enjoyed for years to come. For mailed gifts, consider fresh fruit, with the note of "Have a healthy year." Or support someone's goal to be physically active with a coupon for a free month membership to his/her local fitness facility. A variety of coupons can be created this holiday season to convey the message of good health. For example, give the coupon of "time" to friends and family members to provide them with "free time" to reach their health goals by offering to watch their children for a few hours while friends or family members exercise, or provide time to shop for healthy groceries.
When deciding what to bring to the office potluck or holiday get-together, offer to bring a salad, a vegetable dish, or healthy breads and muffins. With a salad, add lots of color, such as dried cranberries, canned mandarin oranges, peppers, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. For a vegetable side dish, use healthy preparation methods, such as steaming or baking vegetables without adding butter, cream sauces or other forms of fat. Create vibrant dishes with a variety of color, such as peapods, mushrooms, and red peppers, or green zucchini and diced tomatoes. Try flavoring your favorite dishes with black pepper, parsley, garlic, or sautéed onions. Prepare fresh bread or muffins using low-fat recipes and freeze them, pull them out as needed, and let them defrost for events that afternoon or evening. This will save time on the day of the event, but will also allow healthy foods to be served.
Healthy Holiday Tip Reminders:
- Eat a small snack before attending a party.
- Keep moving around the party room and try not to stand or sit right next to the food table.
- Drink a glass of water between each sugar-sweetened and/or alcoholic beverage.
- Bring healthy options to the event (snacks, vegetables, healthy punch consisting of diet lemon-lime soda, mixed with 100% cranberry or apple juice).
- Incorporate activity before or after the event. If possible, walk or wheel to the party and back home.
- Remember moderation: enjoy and taste favorites, but have only one piece or serving.
- Fill your plate with vegetables and fruit so that3/4 of the plate should be bright in color.
- Maintain your physical activity schedule.
Maintaining personal health allows you to provide others with good health, which is a priceless gift that will last for years to come. Be creative this year, and recognize all the opportunities to give a gift of good health this holiday season.
Below are two recipes for healthy gift-giving. Prepare the recipes in mini bread pans, bake, let cool, and then freeze. When gifts are needed, wrap the mini loaves in holiday wrapping paper, and use as a "healthy" gift.
Holiday Zucchini Bread
Serving size: 12 slices
- 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 3/4 cups light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg white
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or canola
- 1 1/4 cups grated zucchini, tightly packed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup drained, canned, crushed pineapple (w/o added sugar)
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Spray a 9" loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, or use 3 smaller pans.
- Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, egg white, oil, zucchini, vanilla, cranberries and pineapple, and mix well.
- Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and stir gently until combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Place on the center rack of the preheated oven, and bake 50 to 60 minutes. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out dry. Cool on a rack.
Holiday Bread with Carob and Carrot
Serving size: 10 slices
- 1 1/3 cups whole-grain wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons oat bran
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 tablespoons non-fat plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1 1/8 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon canola oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 2 egg whites
- 3 tablespoons grated carrots
- 1 1/2 tablespoons carob chips
- nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sift together the wheat flour, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger. Set aside. (This can be done the night before and kept covered at room temperature.)
- Mix the yogurt, apple juice, vanilla extract, oil, honey, egg whites, and carrots in a separate bowl and blend together.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Add the carob chips and fold together until blended. Do not over-mix: this will toughen the bread.
- Spray 3 small loaf pans or 1 loaf pan with non-stick spray and fill each pan 3/4 full with batter. Place on the center rack of the preheated oven, and bake 45 minutes. The breads are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out dry. Cool on a rack.
Festive Holiday Cookies
Choose your favorite preserve to spread holiday cheer and wrap 2-3 cookies together as a healthy gift.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar substitute
- 2 egg whites (or egg substitutes, 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon of each almond and vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
- 1/3 cup sugar free preserves (or lemon curd)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large mixing bowl, beat the margarine with sugar and sugar substitute on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Add egg yolk or egg substitute and vanilla and almond extracts; beat well.
- Beat flour mixture into the margarine mixture gradually on low speed, just until combined.
- Put almonds in a small food processor and process until nicely ground. Beat into cookie dough mixture on low speed, just to combine.
- Make small dough balls on nonstick cookie sheet or jellyroll pan, about 2 inches apart to prevent cooking into each other (line with parchment paper if desired). Make a deep indentation in the center of each ball with your thumb.
- Bake for 8 minutes, and then remove from oven. Fill center of each cookie with a slightly heaping 1-teaspoon measure of jam (sugar free preserve). (If necessary, press down center of cookies again before filling with jam). Bake about 8 minutes more or until golden brown.
- Place cookies on wire rack to cool.