Can the words "healthy" and "holiday" even go together? Should they go together? Do you put them together?
It can seem like you do such a good job eating well all year long, and then, when the holidays roll around, all those good intentions go out the window. We've all been there and know the feeling. Then comes January and those New Year's resolutions to drop those holiday pounds. It's a cycle that can lead to frustration and discouragement.
Here's how to break the cycle: Add plenty of fresh, seasonal produce to your holiday dinner. Winter squash, apples, root vegetables, cranberries and pomegranates are packed with nutrients, fiber and phytonutrients -- and best yet, they're low in calories. Unfortunately, many traditional Thanksgiving sides -- sweet potatoes with marshmallows and that creamy green bean casserole -- are packed with added sugars and saturated fat.
Rather than adding sugar, try adding fruit to sweeten a salad or vegetable dish (think pomegranates with Brussels sprouts or cranberries in a salad). Apples can be added to sweet potatoes and dried apricots or prunes to roasted root vegetables. A dash of cinnamon or nutmeg also adds flavor and depth to dishes.
The way vegetables are prepared makes a big difference in calories as well. Roasting brings out the flavor in vegetables, so they don't need added brown sugar, butter or marshmallows. The roasting causes caramelization, which intensifies the natural sweetness.
Two other options are to lighten up traditional recipes or to simply go with the traditional recipe but take smaller portions. Swapping out butter for canola oil works to lower saturated fats in vegetable dishes or stuffing. And you can cut salt in a recipe by using herbs or citrus juices. Even a small change, such as using fewer marshmallows on the sweet potatoes and adding cinnamon, can help cut calories.
When January rolls around and your scale hasn't inched upward, you'll be glad for every swap you made this holiday season.
Q and A
Q: When I choose a loaf of bread, should I choose multigrain bread or whole-wheat bread? Is one better for you than the other?
A: Choose the 100% whole wheat. While multigrain may sound healthier, what matters is the amount of fiber. There's more fiber in the whole-wheat bread than in most multigrain breads. It can be confusing because marketers like to make you think 12 grains of whole grains, or even a label that says "good source of whole grains," is the best to choose. But the bottom line is fiber. A healthy bread will supply 2-3 grams of fiber per slice. We need 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day, so having a piece of toast or a sandwich with 3 grams of fiber can help accomplish that goal.