Staying on the Health Track through the Holidays
by Carolyn Burris
The holiday season is full of sharing wonderful times and good food with friends and family. Unfortunately for many, it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. According to the National Institute of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up. Unfortunately, many of the traditional foods normally prepared are high in fat, salt, and sugar. However, the holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Here are several tips for staying on the health track through the holidays.
Balance is the key! Start by focusing on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun.
When at parties, try eating a healthy snack before heading out to the holiday celebration. Focus on healthier options when filling up your plate. This would include larger portions of vegetables and whole grains and less meats, cheese and heavy desserts. Consider taking a healthy dish along to contribute to holiday meals, parties, and family gatherings. Remember, eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Eat smaller portions and be willing to push the plate away.
When at home, choose recipes which include seasonal vegetables, such as winter squashes, leafy greens and root vegetables such as yams. Be diligent to serve a green salad and plenty of vegetable and whole grain side dishes with your holiday meals. A fresh fruit salad topped with granola makes a great healthy dessert option. You can also prepare favorite dishes lower in fat and calories which promote healthy holiday eating. For example, when preparing mashed potatoes, use skim milk, garlic powder, or turkey broth instead of whole milk and butter.
Also, remember to use natural meats raised without antibiotics and fresh cut herbs in your recipes for healthier food options. Or try a vegetarian main dish for the holidays. Make this year’s holidays count toward healthier eating!
Here’s a recipe using a traditional dish of sweet potatoes but in a lighter and healthier way combined with apples and cinnamon. Sweet potatoes have all three of these antioxidants: Vitamin A, C, and E, You can make this recipe without peeling the sweet potatoes or the apples. Peel or don’t peel, it’s up to you.
Apple Sweet Potato Bake
- 5 cups thinly sliced sweet potatoes (or yams), about 2 1/2 sweet potatoes
- 2 cups thinly sliced apples, such as Gala or Granny Smith (about three medium)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup apple juice or orange juice
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes, apple slices, and maple syrup together. Spoon into a 9×9-inch or similar-sized baking dish.
- In a small bowl, add the cinnamon and salt to the apple juice. Pour evenly over sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
- Cover baking dish with lid or foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 15 minutes longer or until apple and sweet potatoes are cooked throughout.
This Nutrition Update is brought to you by Forum Health Knoxville. For more information about the Forum Health Knoxville’s approach to wellness, call 865-675-9355.
Carolyn Burris, an east Tennessee native, earned her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Community and Public Health Nutrition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her passion for helping those with nutritional needs brought her to Forum Health Knoxville. Carolyn particularly loves encouraging those struggling with food intolerance, obesity, fibromyalgia, and fatigue.