What’s a holiday without having your favorite foods, healthy or not?
Even people whose job it is to counsel us to better eating have favorites that aren’t all that healthy. These foods represent family traditions and evoke fond memories but some degree of control helps to enjoy your favorites without guilt.
Dietitians like Marshfield Clinic Health System Dietitian Chrisanne Urban have their own favorite “short lists” and she reminds us that it’s healthy to think about food around the holidays.
“Holidays are about celebrations. We’re called to think about why and with whom we celebrate since these are chances to connect with ‘community,’ whether family or friends,” she said. “You have favorite foods and drinks with family traditions, though some are high in calories. Good advice is to pick and choose. If there’s a food that’s a problem for you, recognize that and make a plan ahead of time.”
Be wise with your favorites
Urban herself has an eclectic list of favorites and ways she manages them:
- Real whipped cream. “I’m careful with it portion-wise.”
- Peanut brittle. “It’s the taste, a fat-and-sugar combination.” Eaten only during the holidays, she parses it out, dividing one serving into a handful of smaller servings.
- Holiday cookies. “I’m very picky and I encourage my patients to be picky, too. If it doesn’t taste good don’t waste your calories. If you bake, bake your one favorite cookie. Mine is Mexican wedding cakes. This cookie takes me back to when I was young. I need to be careful, so for control I put them out of sight or give them to friends and family.”
- Good chocolate. She chooses a candy with more cacao and tries to limit it in her home by sharing at work or with friends and family.
Other tips include not eating simply to please your host and planning for physical activity. “It’s cold this time of year every year so you can’t use cold weather as an excuse! Or, plan a dance party. Anything is better than nothing.
Also, there are lots of healthy foods, like non-starchy vegetables the colors of the season – broccoli, radishes, spinach, tomato, green and red peppers. They’re beautiful and maybe this is the year to start a new family tradition with them so the focus is the beauty of the season,” Urban said.
“It’s all about taking care of yourself during the holidays. Good health is a gift and it’s the best gift you can give yourself.”
Try this recipe
So, in the spirit of good health, consider this beautiful and inviting recipe for a holiday gathering.
Crudité Vegetable Wreath with Ranch Dip
Prep time: 25 minutes
Serving size: 1/2 cup vegetables and 1 tablespoon dip
- 8 cups broccoli florets
- 3 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 2 cups green beans, trimmed
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed
- 1/2 bunch curly kale, washed
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 9 cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
- 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
To prepare crudité: Put a large pot of water on to boil. Set a large bowl of ice water by the stove. Blanch broccoli for 1 to 2 minutes in the boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the ice bath to chill. Drain well. Blanch Brussels sprouts, green beans and snap peas in the same way.
To prepare dip: Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, shallot, dill, vinegar, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl; set it in the center of a large circular platter or decorative serving board.
Arrange kale around the bowl, with the frilly edges on the outside. Top with the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, snap peas and cauliflower. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.
To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Each serving: 49 calories; 3 g fat (0 g sat); 1 g fiber; 4 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 30 mcg folate; 2 mg cholesterol; 2 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 805 IU vitamin A; 34 mg vitamin C; 29 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 81 mg sodium; 174 mg potassium