Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
For many people, holidays and family get togethers are a time for celebration. These celebrations often involve foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories and short on nutrition. With a few minor changes, however, special occasion foods can be both delicious and nutritious.
Many holiday foods include dairy products. Enjoy these foods during your celebrations, but use skimmed milk and other 'low' or 'no' fat dairy products in your recipes whenever possible. Look for the growing assortment of low fat cheeses, cheese slices and cheese spreads that are now available in your grocery store. For example, use light or ultra-light cream cheese or cheddar cheese with only 7% fat. If you use spreads or other products that are high in fat, such as butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, spread them very thinly or use only a small amount.
Avoid smothering your vegetables with thick creamy sauces or butter. Potatoes, for example, contain no fat. They also contain very little salt and are good sources of Vitamins B and C and potassium. Potato skins are a good source of fibre (fibre may help lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of colon cancer). Try leaving the skins on the potatoes when you mash them. When mashing potatoes, rather than adding butter or sour cream, try whipping the potatoes with skim or 1% milk or low / no fat sour cream or yogurt.
Feel free to include two or three vegetables with your meal as long as they have been prepared with little or no fat. This can often be done by steaming, baking or cooking them in the microwave. Flavor can be added by using seasonings such as spices and herbs. Dark green vegetables (such as broccoli) and bright orange vegetables (such as carrots and sweet potatoes) are high in the antioxidant vitamins, folic acid and fibre. Antioxidants (as Vitamins A, C, and E) can be protective agents against heart disease and cancer. Folic acid may play a role in helping to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. When choosing vegetables, pick the ones that are the darkest in color to ensure maximum nutrition.
Salads are a great addition to any holiday meal. Be sure to choose a low fat dressing or ask your host to let you add your own so that you can control the amount.
Cooking Tip: To prevent loss of flavor and vitamins when cooking vegetables, try steaming vegetables in less water or using a steaming rack. If you do boil vegetables in water, save the water to make gravy.
Cooking Tip: Rather than cooking stuffing inside of poultry or a roast, cook the stuffing in a casserole dish or aluminum foil in the oven. This will reduce the amount of fat in the stuffing considerably.
Cooking Tip: If you choose to use drippings for your gravy, pour or skim the fat off the top of the drippings before using. This can be done easily by letting the drippings get cold and, when the fat has become hard, take it off with a spoon. Or, when the drippings are cool, you can also add ice cubes, to which the fat will stick. Remove the ice cubes before making the gravy.
Cooking Tip: When making cranberry sauce, add sugar after cooking the cranberries to maintain the tenderness of the skin. You may also want to substitute some artificial sweetener for some of the sugar in your cranberry sauce recipe.
applesauce with mincemeat to reduce the amount of fat and serve
with frozen low fat or fat free yogurt.