There are so may resources, articles, and recipes about food surrounding this time of year. Of course, there are those special family recipes that are passed down from our loved ones that we look forward to, but a few simple modifications can turn that dish into a healthier option. Lisa Galati, Registered Dietitian, at St Anthony’s Medical Center has shared her tips for having a healthier holiday season. Lisa wrote that “some of the modifications are as simple as baking the turkey instead of frying it, using low-fat or fat-free ingredients wherever possible, and cutting one-third to one-half the amount of fat or sugar in any recipe.”
Some other modifications that Lisa suggests are:
• Use a low fat, low sodium broth base for gravy
• For mashed potatoes: use lots of pepper & garlic instead of salt in mashed potatoes; or blenderize cauliflower instead of mashing potatoes; or offer sweet potatoes as another healthy & nutritious option.
• For stuffing: use wild rice & whole grain in stuffing; or bake stuffing in a casserole dish, instead of inside the turkey; or fortify the stuffing with chopped vegetables or fruit; to reduce fat, avoid adding sausage or bacon to stuffing.
• Use fruit juice or applesauce instead of sugar in the cranberry sauce; use applesauce instead of shortening in recipes or use half oil & half applesauce.
• Use pepper, garlic and fresh onions to add flavor to green beans.
• For green bean casserole: use low fat, low sodium soup; eliminate or use less bacon & fried onions in green bean casserole.
• Serve whole grain rolls
• Unsweetened tea and water flavored with lemon are good drink choices; avoid sugary mixed drinks, sodas and sweetened teas
• If you are going to drink an alcoholic beverage, choose wine or a low calorie beer (recommendations are no more than 2 drinks for men & one drink for women, per day).
• For pies: use one-quarter less sugar in the pumpkin pie; use a graham cracker crust for pies.
Additionally, my personal tips are: if you are the guest, don’t arrive hungry–don’t save up those calories/carbs all day, which can cause great fluctuations in your blood glucose; you’re prescribed meal plan should be evenly distributed throuout the day. I have everybody bring a dish–less hassle, stress, & dishes! Survey the entire buffet area before loading up your plate; its OK to have a little of each item you really want instead of having everything on display. Use mocktails instead of alcoholic drinks, which are contraindicated in use with some medications, especially the meds that work in the liver, such as Metformin & many of the cholesterol-lowering agents; check with the product inserts or your Pharmacist for information about your medications. In general, one alcoholic choice has about 100 calories. Crystal Light has several 5-calorie mocktail flavors such as Mojito, Appletini, & Margarita–use a fancy swizzle stick or party umbrella to dress up that drink. Another way to drink less calories & carbs is to go easy on the eggnog: try to have just 1/2 cup (4 ounces) which can be 170 calories, 20gr carbs, & 8 grams of fat (saturated fat is 5gr–a third of the daily recommendation!) Besides chips during the “big game”, another item that we sometimes eat mindlessly & adds up quickly is nuts. Nuts are used in the body as a fat source that provides 45 calories & 5 gr fat per serving; as in all things, the key is serving size: 6 almonds, or 6 cashews, or 10 peanuts, or 16 pistachios, or 4 pecan halves, or 3 macadamia. One of my favorite pies is pecan pie; because I have too much trouble resisting it, I can’t have a whole pecan pie in the house! I buy only a single-serving piece (I find it at Dierbergs, Schnucks, & other locations), then when the family is enjoying their desserts, I am not deprived. I microwave my turkey–then keep it warm in broth in the crockpot–less heat in the kitchen–cooks shorter time—& frees up the oven for other items! And no matter how much room you have in your freezer or fridge, cooking enough for lots of people, when there is only a few of you, may cause too much temptation with excess leftovers in the days following the holiday. And for those of you who know me by attending our DSMT Education sessions, my favorite reminder is: “exercise is free”; go for a walk–take the dog, the kids, the grandkids; go skating; toss around the football; have all those “helpers” put up your outside decorations. The most important thing about the holidays is spending precious time with family & friends and creating wonderful memories!