I was asked by one of our readers if I had any good ideas for healthy holiday eating or ways to make our favorite dishes healthier during the holiday season. I would like to expand on my response.
Whether you’re eating at home or eating elsewhere, we can follow some simple rules for healthier eating during the holidays.
1. Eat a salad with oil and vinegar an hour before dinner. You won’t feel that hungry by dinner time and will eat less if you listen to your stomach. Also, a full glass of water before a meal will help.
2. Use smaller size plates to eat on. The plate will look fuller and you’ll think you’re eating more.
3. Try to make smaller portions for yourself. Calories do count and even an extra meatball can add up.
4. Eat slowly. Have conversations with your dinner guests. Take your time having dinner. You will give your stomach time to let you know that you are full and you won’t go for the second helpings. Also, drink water throughout the meal.
5. If you feel full, don’t have desert. Save the calories for another time. If you aren’t full, take a small piece of your favorite desert and enjoy. Don’t fill up your plate with other useless calories.
6. Try to eat sensibly throughout the rest of the day and if you can get your workout routines in during this busy season, that would be ideal.
Now as for making our favorite holiday dishes healthier, I recommend some “must have items” in our kitchens.
1. Extra virgin olive oil
2. Mrs. Dash Table Blend. I use it in everything for flavor.
3. Garlic powder or fresh crushed garlic
4. Sea salt, if you must have salt. It’s healthier if used in moderation.
5. I can’t believe it’s not butter spray — zero calories if sprayed on. It really does taste like butter.
6. Any pan spray
7. Low fat or part-skim milk cheeses
8. Whole wheat or multi-grain breads and pastas
9. Brown rice
10. Salad fixings
11. Fresh veggies and fruits
12. Lean meats and fresh fish
Any of the bland foods can be flavored with our spices.
Examples of healthier choices for our holiday dishes are:
1. Make a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.
2. Make stuffing with light bread, low sodium chicken broth (no butter) and add fruit instead of sausage or use turkey sausage
3. Roast any veggies in the oven with extra-virgin olive oil, Mrs. Dash and garlic powder — amazing.
4. Have sweet potatoes instead of white. Can make baked, mashed or baked fries.
5. If you need gravy, use low fat. And if you love cranberry sauce, try to make your own.
6. Any pasta dishes should be made with the low fat cheeses, whole grain pastas. Try to make your own sauce. This way you have control of what is put in. The simpler the more delicious.
You can find quick, easy holiday recipes online as well. Just remember, it is the holiday season, so we should enjoy our special get togethers with our family and friends without feeling guilty. We need to be sensible with our choices.
I would love to hear other “must have items” that you all may have along with some simple healthy ideas on holiday meals. Tell me in the comments below!