Healthy Holidays to You

Cathy Agan  |  12/17/2012 10:08:32 PM

The holiday season is upon us, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. With all of the holiday parties and food, maybe we should rename it the eating season. It can be a challenge to enjoy the holidays without adding a few extra pounds or experiencing some stress over preparing holiday meals. Christmas Eve can be difficult as we try to juggle spending time with family and friends with preparing the family meal. For those of us who want to try to stay on track with healthy eating, it can be especially hard.

In order to ease the stress of preparing a large family meal for Christmas Eve night, you may want to look at some easier options.

Here are just a few suggestions to take some of the load off the cook on Christmas Eve:

  • Try potluck style where everyone brings a dish. You may want to have a menu in advance, and let everyone sign up for which dish they would like to bring. 
  • Soups and gumbos are easy to prepare ahead of time and reheat or cook in the slow cooker while you do other things. 
  • How about a sandwich buffet where everyone can build their own sandwiches? 
  • Finger foods also make for a fun way to feed a large group and are easy to eat when you don’t have table space for everyone to be seated. 
  • Offer ingredients that guests can stack up to make their own dish such as chili, rice, chips, cheese, tomatoes, green onions, sour cream, etc. 
  • A baked potato bar is also quick and easy to prepare. You can have a variety of toppings for guests to customize their potatoes.
For those who prefer a traditional holiday dinner, there are a lot of things you can do to decrease the calorie content of your favorite dishes while keeping the good taste. When making candied sweet potatoes, you can replace some of the sugar with 100% orange juice or substitute a lower calorie brown sugar sweetener blend for regular brown sugar in the recipe. For even greater reductions in calories, switch candied sweet potatoes for roasted sweet potatoes. When making pumpkin or sweet potato pie, try using fat-free evaporated milk in the recipe. To lighten your green bean casserole, use a healthier version of cream of mushroom soup and use non-fat milk in the casserole. To reduce the sodium content, use frozen green beans rather than canned ones. You may want to try using sautéed onions in the casserole rather than French-fried ones. Make mashed potatoes with fat-free half and half, reduced fat sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt. Cook stuffing outside the bird to keep it from absorbing fat from the turkey. You can also use fat-free chicken broth in making your stuffing or dressing.

For a healthy holiday season, enjoy proper portion sizes, and watch the amount of gravy, sauce, and butter added to foods. Try to fill up on healthier foods, and don’t forget to get some physical activity. Make parties fun, not food-oriented. Here’s to a healthy holiday season to everyone!
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