A healthy feasting formula
by Lisa Petty
When friends and family gather around the dinner table, the nutritional quality of our food is the last thing we think about. Here’s a quick formula for keeping ‘healthy’ in your upcoming celebrations!
Nuts are a delicious and nutritious holiday snack, containing heart-healthy unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, zinc and potassium. For healthy blood pressure, decrease salt in your recipes; explore the nutrient-rich world of fresh herbs and spices.
Rather than cream dips, enjoy homemade salsa with crackers and home-baked tortilla chips. Trim the fat from ham and remove the skin from poultry. Enjoy lean cuts of meat, including pork or beef tenderloin.
Baked is always healthier than fried, but when frying is necessary use coconut oil for its high smoke-point and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that convert quickly to fuel so less fat is stored. In recipes, switch out corn oil for mono-unsaturated, oleic acid-rich olive oil, which helps prevent oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol; or enjoy a good dose of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in walnut oil, which converts in your body to omega-3 essential fats EPA and DHA.
Enjoy these tasty lower calorie choices:
Skip the sour cream with your latkes, and opt for sugar free apple sauce. Experiment with stuffing recipes using rice or corn meal – or simply line the cavity of your turkey with fresh rosemary, sage and orange. For something sweet and chocolatey with a fraction of the calories in cake, enjoy a steaming mug of hot cocoa.
Reduce your chances of over-eating at the dinner by doing some prep work: on party day, eat small meals including protein every few hours to keep blood sugar even so you aren’t inclined to over-indulge at dinner. Enjoy a small sampling of every item at the buffet. Wait at least 20 minutes before having a second helping, to give your brain time to register fullness.
Avoid after-dinner discomfort with these simple digestion-boosting tricks:
Avoid liquids during meals as they dilute your digestive juices, leaving you feeling heavy and sluggish after eating. Small sips of water should suffice.
Try gluten-free recipes for guests who have problems digesting gluten in wheat and other grains, and to experiment with other flavours and textures. Instead of zero-nutrient pie crusts, opt for fruit crisps topped with oatmeal – a source of fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
Rather than making the same-old potato latkes, spruce them up with nutrient-rich, high-fibre cauliflower (folate and Vitamin K), zucchini (Vitamins A and C), broccoli (Vitamin K and tryptophan), leek (folate and Vitamin B6), parsnip (potassium and fibre) or sweet potato (Vitamin A and manganese). And did you know that exotic cinnamon is linked to improved glucose metabolism and reduced blood pressure? Sprinkle away!
Holiday feasts offer a way to celebrate the abundance in our lives and to share time with friends and family. Enjoy all the season has to offer – and make a healthy start to your New Year, too!
Originally published in Canadian Health & Lifestyle