If you’ve had any issues with your heart, or if heart disease runs in your family, you know how important it is to take care of your ticker.
Exercise, eating healthy and maintaining a good weight are important for overall health and specifically heart health. So, with that said, yes, the holidays can be challenging.
It’s a time of rich foods – and lots of them – with maybe not as much exercise as we get in the warmer months. The average holiday weight gain is 10 pounds, said Chrisanne Urban, a registered dietitian at Marshfield Clinic. She challenges her patients to maintain their weight over the holidays and not focus on losing.
Heart-healthy means lower fat, sodium and calories
When Urban thinks of heart-healthy eating, she thinks of foods lower in fat and sodium.
“However, one needs not to forget low in calories,” she said. “Just because something is lower in fat, for example, does not mean it’s lower in calories. Many times when fat content is lowered, the sugar/carbohydrate content goes up.”
She urges you to look for fat, sodium, carbohydrates and calories in recipes when choosing heart-healthy foods. If you have a favorite recipe, you can try substitutions to make it healthier, but it might alter look, taste or texture. Urban recommends you make the recipe ahead to be sure the changes turn out as planned.
Urban encourages people to try recipes altered or created specifically for heart health. A number of websites and printed cookbooks have delicious heart-healthy recipes.
“Just a couple weeks ago I was looking for new Thanksgiving recipes,” Urban said. “I plan on introducing something new to our meal.”
Create new holiday traditions
Remember, the holidays can be about creating new traditions. Perhaps it is about taking a walk, going bowling or roller-skating, Urban said.
“For me, personally, there will be some foods I’m not willing to alter/substitute, such as real whipping cream on a piece of pumpkin pie,” Urban said. “I usually only have it one time a year, and this is it, so I plan on enjoying!”
If you’re looking for a heart-healthy alternative to traditional eggnog, this recipe should make its way into your holiday planning. It’s a satisfying and rich eggnog with almost no fat and fewer than 100 calories per half-cup serving. Traditional eggnog has several hundred calories and more than 10 grams of fat per serving.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 3 hours, 5 minutes
- 1 quart skim milk
- 1 cup egg substitute
- 1 box sugar-free, fat-free instant vanilla pudding powder (about 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
- Freshly grated nutmeg
Combine the milk, egg substitute, pudding, sugar, vanilla and rum in a blender. Process until smooth.
Chill for at least three hours. Stir or shake well before serving. Sprinkle the nutmeg on each serving.
Substitute sweetener for the sugar.
This eggnog stores well for up to eight hours, but then it starts to lose some of its thickness and body.
Each serving contains about 95 calories; 0 g total fat; 17 g carbohydrates; 1.2 mg cholesterol; 0 g dietary fiber; 150 mg sodium.