If you are looking for a sandwich or dessert more frequently this holiday season, you are not alone. An estimated 37 percent of Americans suffer from stress from eating according to Mental Health America. As parties mean stress for many, it is not strange that healthy eating habits fall aside during the winter months. In addition, the abundance of decadent food and weight gain may be unavoidable.
But you can eat your "cake" of the holidays and maintain or even activate your well-being. While falling for the occasional candy rich in fat and sugar will not hurt you, learning ways to elevate nutrition with your holiday favorites can take away unwanted pounds while giving you the satisfaction of knowing you are feeding your body well.
Eating well means honoring your body when it tells you that you are hungry and when you have had enough. This is particularly important during the holidays.
Robyn L. Goldberg, registered nutritionist
If nutritional well-being is high on your list of priorities this holiday season, green should be more than in pines, crowns and the festive napkins. While all vegetables have benefits, dark greens are the big stars of nutrition, according to nutritionist Robyn Goldberg.
"Dark green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C," Goldberg said. "They protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems." They also help regulate coagulation., to protect the bones to avoid osteoporosis and act as a regulator for inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. "
Dark green vegetables also promote appetite control and digestive function while preventing colds and flu, important factors during the winter months. Although conventional, American party foods contain little green beyond green beans.
For a healthier version of the traditional green bean stew, replace the high-sodium canned soup with low-fat milk, fresh herbs, sliced mushrooms, and reduced-fat cream. Then cover it with onions sautéed in canola oil instead of the fried onions. To make them crisp, add crunchy crumbs of whole grain bread into the onion mixture.
Christine Avanti, author of "Thin Girls Eat Real Food", recommends adding blanched broccolini, a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with long, thin trunks and smaller sheets for pasta dishes at parties.To whiten the vegetables, place them in boiling water for a minute, then in an ice bath for 10 seconds.
Other festive options include a salad of cabbage covered with fresh or dried cranberries, beans prepared with roasted zucchini and baked or steamed Brussels sprouts covered with silver almonds. For a nutritious snack, change the pretzels and French fries for cabbage sandwiches.
Fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage can add flavor and antioxidants to the turkey and rib without the risks associated with salt.
Herbs can also add a nutritional touch to cocktails.
"I take a swig of cabbage, rosemary and lemon using fresh rosemary in simple syrup and as an ornament," Avanti said.
Fish gives you a lean, protein-rich alternative to meat, lamb and pork. Cold water varieties such as salmon, mackerel and herring are major sources of omega 3 fatty acids, essential fats that have an important role in cardiovascular health and brain function.
"I do not think people think a lot about fish during the holidays," Goldberg said.
But that does not mean you should not. Emphasizing heart-healthy foods is particularly important during the holiday season, when it was shown that the incidence of fatal heart attacks increased by 30 percent.
You can make the fish festive. Goldberg recommends baked salmon cakes or tuna tart as nutritious additions for your Hanukkah breakfast.
In Italian culture, seafood is traditionally served only on Christmas night. Avanti prepares cioppino, a marine stew loaded with clams, crabs, oysters, shrimp and turbot served with pasta or hot and crispy bread.
"The great thing about seafood is that it only takes a few minutes to cook," Avanti said.
If the fish is not in your holiday plan, a turkey is a healthier choice than red meat as a main course.
Although the skin of the turkey contains saturated fat, sodium and calories, leaving it during cooking helps conserve moisture. For an added flavor and nutritional benefits, cover the meat with fruit juice and olive oil-based sauce. Then remove the skin just before eating. If you serve a large dish of turkey, garnish with segments of citrus and fresh herbs. The pieces of orange can add a touch of color and sweet taste.
For other options without meat proteins, beans, lentils and egg whites can minimize your cholesterol and intake of saturated fats. Vegetable-based dishes suitable for the holidays include lentil soup, whole grain crackers covered with hummus and shepherd's pie prepared with black beans or tofu instead of meat.
Do not forget the sauce. You can make a chickpea sauce combining it with olive oil, water and spices like garlic and pepper.
Hearty whole grains
Strategies to stay
High-protein pumpkin ginger pancakes from Christine
1 cup whole wheat flour 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 tablespoon baking soda sodium 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon 1/2 tablespoon ginger 1/4 tablespoon salt 1 cup light vanilla soy milk 2 tablespoons protein powder (any brand that has 20 grams of protein per tablespoon) 1 / 4 cups non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt 3/4 cup canned pumpkin 2 extra-large egg whites 2 tablespoons slightly melted butter 2 slices of crystallized ginger, quarter-shaped and diced 2 tablespoons cold butter Cooking non-stick spray 4 tablespoons maple syrup
In a large mixing bowl, combine the first seven ingredients and set aside. Pour the soy milk and protein powder into the blender and mix for 30 seconds, then pour into a medium bowl. To the protein mixture, add yogurt, pumpkin, egg whites and melted butter and mix well.
Combine the liquid mixture with the dry ingredients in the large container and stir until just moistened. Do not mix too much pancake dough.
Set the temperature to medium heat and begin to prepare the ginger sauce by cutting the caramelized ginger. Add the cubed ginger to the cold butter, mix well and set aside. Spray the hot iron with cooking spray. Place the pancake dough on the hot griddle, using a quarter cup of dough for each pancake. Let each one cook for two to three minutes per side. Spread gently with ginger butter and half a tablespoon of syrup per cake.
Six to eight pancakes are formed.