Holiday Tips for a Healthy New Year
The holidays not only bring tidings of good cheer and joy, but lots of good food, starting with Thanksgiving. Honestly, turkey day doesn’t bother me as much as the next thirty that follow. If you are watching your weight, cholesterol or blood sugar, the month of December can be very challenging to navigate.
While it’s nice to indulge in our favorite foods at this time of the year, this isn’t a carte blanche to go on a binge for a month. Arrive at your destination with lots of presents and a semi-full tummy! Choose a smaller plate and don’t load it up with a lot of food at the get-go. Look over the span of selections on the table and choose one or two items that you are looking forward to eating. Start with those, and try to keep them to half-cup portions. Use the My Plate guidelines that suggest you fill half of your plate with vegetables. And try and avoid foods covered in phyllo dough, or swimming in cheese or creamy sauces-they will add more fat calories.
Whether you are hosting, or just guesting, here are some heart-healthy menu ideas that can be served along with the season’s traditional favorites.
Mediterranean Mezes that Coddle the Heart
Home made, low fat Tzatziki; serve with an assortment of cut up vegetables
Guacamole; serve with blue corn, baked tortilla chips/veggies
Hummus; serve with red & green pepper slices or whole grain, pita triangles
Shrimp; serve with cocktail sauce or peanut dipping sauce
Skewer red and green grapes; or cherry tomatoes; with ciligiene mozzarella balls
Surf and turf is always a nice change; beef sirloin or tenderloins are preferred over rib eye or prime rib cuts. Buying pre-cooked entrees, like a spiral ham, will cut down on time spent in the kitchen or consider serving a turkey breast versus cooking a whole bird. Side offerings include:
Butternut squash ravioli for the vegetarians in the group.
Cranberry/almond spinach salad. Serve with a light vinaigrette or poppy seed salad dressing.
Baked white, sweet, or oven-roasted potatoes are packed with fiber and potassium, and stay warm nicely when served in a chafing dish.
Steamed, green beans with sautéed mushrooms; sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Roasted whole, balsamic “head to tail” carrots are full of beta-carotene
Add orange zest for a natural sweetener to sweet potatoes instead of marshmallows.
Roasted Brussel sprouts with cubed butternut squash and topped with pecans
Spicy BBQ cranberry meatballs (use ground turkey)
Dash Away Desserts
Your dessert plate should not look like a sampler dish. Choose one slice of your favorite pie. It’s okay to top with a dollop of ice cream or real whipped cream for one day! I’m not a fan of the non-dairy whipped substitutes like Cool Whip, as they are loaded with hydrogenated fats. Apple cobblers are easy to make and serve, and are full of heart-healthy oats versus the fats in pie crusts.
Alcohol can add lots of extra calories. And the more you drink, the less you are in control-that includes of foods, too. Always finish what’s in your glass before you top it off, otherwise you will lose track of how much you are drinking. Try to rotate drinks with a variety of non-alcoholic options. Flavored seltzer or sparkling waters are great low calorie options. I add a dash of cranberry juice to seltzer water and top it off with a squirt of lemon juice. And what’s a party with hot chocolate? Crockpot cocoa is a treat not only for the kids running around the house but will warm up cold bones on chilly, winter nights.
Breakfast in PJs
For guests that are staying over, pre-bake and freeze mini egg frittatas in muffin tins and warm them up for breakfast the next day. Serve with a buttermilk, blueberry cake, or a French toast bake that can be cooked the day before and then reheated, as well. I may try the grilled cheese and fried egg sandwiches I saw on Pinerest. Of course, I will add in a few slices of avocado. Yum!
By planning ahead, and practicing moderation and balance, you will surely ring in a healthy New Year!