Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #10 & #11

On the tenth day of Christmas, my dietitian told me…

Stop eating when you’re full!

At holiday meals, people have a tendency to keep eating just because the food is there. This is one of the reasons why people tend to gain weight over the holiday season. When eating dinner, try to enjoy and savor the foods you are eating instead of just shoveling in bite after bite. If you eat slower, your body will be able to better recognize when you are full. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is satisfied. Therefore, after eating dinner wait a while before going back for seconds. Let your body have time to decide if it really is still hungry or if your brain is just telling you to eat because food is available. If after waiting awhile you are still hungry then have another small portion or two of your favorite dishes, or have a slice of your favorite dessert. The holiday food is there for you to enjoy, not to stuff you to the brim.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my dietitian told me…

How to walk away from the buffet!

The first few bites of any food provide you with the most pleasure. Savor those bites to the fullest and don’t go overboard. If you find it hard to know when to stop, here are some good ways to fight the urge to eat more than you should:

· Don’t sit right next to the appetizers, candy dishes, or cookie trays. This will tempt you to reach over for more food than you should be eating. Move around the house and find places where you can socialize.

· During the hors d’oeuvres and dinner, keep your mouth busy by talking with the friends and family you are gathered with.

· Chew on a piece of gum or a mint to prevent you from picking at the foods available. Eat a few hors d’oeuvres and then chew gum between that and dinner. After dinner, chew on another piece of gum before you dive into the desserts.

· The taste of toothpaste dulls the taste buds, so if you want to stop eating, find a way to brush your teeth.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #9

On the ninth day of Christmas, my dietitian told me…

You can have dessert, but don’t over do it!

What would a holiday party be without the dessert table? However, this table can be a very difficult area for people who are on a diet or trying to maintain a healthy weight. However, don’t let food control you over the holidays. The holiday is time to enjoy and celebrate life, and dessert can definitely be a part of that. When dinner is ending and it comes time for dessert allow yourself to have one or two small portions of the dessert of your choice, but do not make your dessert plate as full as your dinner plate. Choose one piece of the pie you have been eyeing up, or one of your favorite holiday cookies. Dessert is meant to be savored and enjoyed. So choose your favorite and enjoy it, just don’t go back for seconds or thirds, because keep in a mind a single piece of pecan pie can have over 500 calories. Therefore people counting calories may want to choose a lighter dessert option like a slice of pumpkin pie (205 calories) or 2 small sugar cookies (130 calories). Here is a delicious recipe that is slightly less in calories, but no way less in flavor.

Recipe: Crustless Pumpkin Pie


1-1/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 eggs (Use an egg substitute to cut more fat and cholesterol)

2 cups canned pumpkin

3/4 cup evaporated milk (use fat free milk to eliminate more fat)

1-1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional


In a bowl, combine the sugar and flour. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in the pumpkin, milk, vanilla and cinnamon if desired; mix until well blended. Pour into a greased 9-in. pie plate. Place pie plate in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan; add 1/2 in. of hot water to pan. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 211 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 87 mg cholesterol, 49 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #8

On the eighth day of Christmas, my dietitian told me…

To keep portion sizes on my mind!

When you smell the foods you are cooking and see the spread of delicious Holiday favorites, it is easy to overload your plate with all that goodness. But overloading your plate can often lead to not so good feelings after you eat it all. In order to avoid this, take one piece of the meat that is provided, and one small scoop of the side dishes. This will give you a taste of everything without food overload. You should aim towards filling ¼ of your plate with meat, ¼ of your plate with a starchy side dish such as potatoes, and ½ of your plate with vegetables. Eat your meal slowly, putting your fork down and resting for a minute or two every now and again. Dinner is a time to converse with all of the family you are sharing the Holiday with. By talking to those you are sitting with, you will eat slower. If you decide later that you are still hungry, go back and pick one or two of your favorite items and take a small amount.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #7

On the seventh day of Christmas, my dietitian told me…

Not to forget about those important veggies!

Before you eat dinner, scan the appetizers for a vegetable tray. Choosing vegetables will provide you with nutrients that are needed every day such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, antioxidants, and fiber. If you are in charge of cooking the Holiday meal, you should provide your guests with vegetables that are cooked in a way that keeps their nutrient value. The best way to do this is to steam or roast your vegetables. Steaming and roasting are easy and don’t require a lot of cooking steps. If a vegetable recipe calls for cream, try using light cream instead of heavy cream. If a vegetable recipe calls for butter, try using half of the amount that is suggested on the recipe. And lastly, don’t overload vegetables with salt. Put in a little for seasoning, and allow everyone to season their food with more salt if they really want to. Here are a few vegetable recipes that you will enjoy!

Green bean casserole:

Serves 10 Prep Time: 15 minutes, Bake Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 2 bags of frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 small onion, sautéed in olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


  • Slice the onion into thin slices. Place into the heated pan with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sautee the onion until golden brown.
  • In a bowl, combine soup, milk, soy sauce and pepper. Gently stir in beans. Spoon half of the mixture into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the onions. Spoon remaining bean mixture over the top.
  • Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes longer. Yield: 10 servings.

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes and Yams

Serves 10 Prep Time: 20 minutes, Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes


  • 8 cloves of roasted garlic (the jar will give instructions as to how many teaspoons is equivalent to 1 clove)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 pounds yams, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish.

2. Boil potatoes and yams in a large pot of salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup liquid.

3. Place potatoes and yams in a large bowl with milk, butter, rosemary, garlic, and reserved olive oil. Mash to desired consistency, adding any extra liquid as needed. Mix in 1/4 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

4. Bake until heated through and golden on top, about 45 minutes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #6

On the sixth day of Christmas, my dietitian said to me…

What sides are you going to eat?

When it comes to the holidays everyone wants to indulge in his or her favorite comfort food. Usually this comes in the form of a side dish such as macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes. While these foods may provide comfort, they also provide a lot of calories and fat. Even though it’s ok to indulge every once and a while, there are easy ways to make your favorite dish more healthy. Here are some suggestions of substitutions you can use in your recipes this holiday season:

Recipe calls for:


1 whole egg

2 egg whites

Sour cream

Low fat plain yogurt or low fat sour cream


Skim or 1%

Heavy cream (not for whipping)

2 tablespoons flour whisked into 2 cups non fat milk


Low-fat cheese (non-fat cheese does not melt well if use in cooking or baking)

Here is a healthy version of Macaroni and Cheese:

Recipe: Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower

12 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped

4 slices multigrain bread, torn

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups grated low fat extra-sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)

1 1/2 cups non fat yogurt or sour cream

1/2 cup skim milk or 1%

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking time; drain.

Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; pulse to combine.

Return the pasta pot to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Mix in the pasta and cauliflower and the cheese, yogurt, milk, and mustard.

Transfer to a shallow 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #5

On the fifth day of Christmas, my dietitian said to me…

Don’t eat the skin on the Turkey.

American holiday dinners almost always involve some form of meat. Two of the most popular meats for holidays are ham and turkey. Out of these two choices turkey is probably the better choice. Not only is turkey an excellent source of protein, but also compared to other meats it has the least amount of fat per serving, if you eat it without the skin. For example, four ounces of turkey breast without skin is only 152 calories and had little to no fat. A drumstick with skin on the other hand has about 236 calories with close to 12 grams of fat. If you are going to have ham at your holiday dinner just try to limit your portion to about fours ounces, which is about as big as a deck of cards. Ham has more sodium and fat than turkey, but as long as you stick to the proper serving size you’ll be fine. Here is a healthy recipe to try on your holiday meat:

Recipe: Brown Rice and Apple Stuffed Turkey Breast

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Progresso ® Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped green apple

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 turkey (10 to 12 pounds)


In a saucepan, combine the broth, 1/3 cup apple juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and raisins. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, cook celery and onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add apple; cook and stir for 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Combine the rice mixture, apple mixture, poultry seasoning, pepper and remaining apple juice and salt.

Just before baking, loosely stuff turkey. Skewer turkey openings; tie drumsticks together. Place breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 2-3/4 to 3 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 180° for the turkey and 165° for the stuffing. (Cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly.)

Cover turkey and let stand for 20 minutes. Remove stuffing and carve turkey, discarding skin. If desired, thicken pan drippings for gravy.

Yield: 6 servings with leftovers. 

Editor's Note: Stuffing may be prepared as directed and baked separately in a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and bake a 325° for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until heated through.

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #4

On the fourth day of Christmas, my dietitian said to me…

Drinks are not as harmless as you think.

Drinks may seem like a way to limit your caloric intake because you are not eating, but that is not the case. Alcohol contains calories and those calories can add up fairly quickly after a couple of drinks. If you are really trying to watch your caloric intake it would be best to stick to non-alcoholic drinks. However if you are going to partake in drinking alcoholic beverages, it would be beneficial to switch to lighter alcoholic beverages like light beers or wine spritzers. It’s also a good idea to drink a glass of water in between your drinks. This helps keep your caloric intake down, since water has no calories, and it helps keep you hydrated so you avoid a hangover the next morning. A popular drink around the holidays is eggnog, but a mere 4 ounces is about 150 calories. Therefore, here is a recipe to help keep the calories down while still enjoying a holiday favorite:

Recipe: ‘Skinny’ Eggnog

1-cup skim milk

1/4 tsp. rum extract

Dash of ground cinnamon

Dash of ground nutmeg

Sugar substitute to taste

Pour ice-cold milk into a lidded container and shake vigorously. Add rum extract and sugar substitute and shake again. Pour into a tall glass, sprinkle with spices and add low-fat whipped topping, if desired.

One 8-oz. serving, 86 calories

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #3

On the third day of Christmas, my dietitian said to me…

Choose your appetizers wisely.

Appetizers are there to hold you over until dinner. Therefore, appetizers should not contain enough calories to be a whole meal themselves. Before you decided what appetizers to fill your plate with, observe the buffet to see what is offered. Decided on two or three appetizer options you absolutely have to try because they look delicious, and then fill the rest of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Therefore, you are getting to taste the foods you want but you are still getting nutrient dense foods as well. Another option to help avoid calorie-laden appetizers is to bring one of your own to the party. This way you know there will be at least one option there for you to enjoy guilt free. Plus other people are bound to enjoy it too. Here is a recipe that would be great to take along to that holiday office party or family gathering:

Recipe: Low-Fat Mock Deviled Eggs

6 hard-boiled eggs

1 tsp. sugar

1 T. white vinegar

1 can (16-oz) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

2 T. nonfat mayonnaise

2 T. yellow mustard

1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

2 T. minced green onion

1/4 tsp. ground paprika

Remove shells from eggs. Halve eggs lengthwise; remove and discard the yolks. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in vinegar. Rinse the chickpeas and drain thoroughly. In a food processor or blender, combine chickpeas, sugar mixture, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pepper, and onions and blend until smooth. Spoon mixture into egg whites or fill using a fluted pastry bag. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe removes 3 grams of fat and adds 6 grams of protein and 7 grams of dietary fiber compared to “real” deviled eggs.

Nutritional information: Serving: 1/2 egg (or one deviled egg). Yield: 12 servings. Calories 151, Total fat 2 grams, Saturated fat: trace, Cholesterol: trace, Sodium: 70 mg, Carbohydrate: 24 grams, Protein: 9 grams, Dietary fiber: 7 grams.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #2

On the second day of Christmas, my dietitian told me…

Don't to forget about exercise!

In all of the hustle and bustle associated with Christmas Eve and Christmas day, it is easy to forget about the need to have physical activity. Because gyms and activity centers may be closed, activity will have to be done at home. It is a great idea to get physical activity done early in the day. The exercise will give you an energy boost and it has been shown to be a stress reducer, both of which will be beneficial for your entire day. Shoot for half an hour to an hour of physical activity each day. Here are some great activities that you can do right at home:

  • Shovel the sidewalk for your guests
  • Shovel the sidewalk for any of the elderly or disabled on your block as a gift from you
  • Build a snowman with your children or your friends
  • Take a brisk walk and enjoy the beautiful winter scenery that comes with the Holidays
  • Have a snowball fight, chasing all of your opponents around the yard
  • Sign up for a local 5k Christmas run or run your own 5K around the neighborhood
  • Go ice skating at a local rink
  • Go Snowboarding or Skiing with friends or family
  • Go sled riding or tubing
There are so many fun forms of activity associated with the winter that you should be able to keep your work out interesting and intriguing. So next time you are feeling the stress of the holidays and need to relax take 30 min to exercise to get your endorphins pumping.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating: Day #1

On the first day of Christmas, my dietitian told me…

To start my day off with a healthy breakfast!

Just because you know you will be indulging in a lot of great food on Christmas Eve and Christmas day doesn’t mean you should skip breakfast. By eating a healthy breakfast, your body will get the energy it needs to start the day. You will need all the energy you can get in order to wrap all those gifts, get your kids ready, cook for the dinner at your house or anything you offered to bring to someone else’s gathering, and shovel the snow that is essential to a White Christmas. Try starting your day off with a hot bowl of oatmeal, and get the whole family to share this breakfast together. Oatmeal is a great food that will keep you feeling full throughout the morning. Try adding new ingredients to your oatmeal to create new flavors and make breakfast more exciting. Some examples of ingredients you could add include:

  • · Dried cranberries, raisins, dried mango, dried cherries, coconut etc
  • · Sliced apples, banana, pear, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
  • Slivered almonds, chopped pecans, walnuts, coca roasted almond, peanut butter, etc
  • Pumpkin
  • Granola, or other cereal topping for a crunch
R Really the ideas are endless so be creative and enjoy!

* The 12 Days of Healthy Holiday Eating was created by another student and myself as part of our Community Nutrition Dietetic Internship rotation at Maternal and Family Health Services.