The Holidays have swooped down again, and too many people think that maintaining a healthy diet during this time of year is a lost cause. But the truth of the matter is you CAN eat well and eat healthy at the same time without giving up too much flavor or savor! Just follow these basic rules when you’re cooking for yourself and for company:
Fats are still okay
Unsaturated fats like olive oil are perfectly good for you, used in moderation. Sauteeing veggies in one tablespoon of olive oil brings out their flavor without adding any harmful cholesterol. In fact, do your friends and family a favor by gifting them with some of the more exotic olive oil specialities, like rosemary and thyme olive oil or garlic infused olive oil. You can order them online in special Holiday bottles, or find them in boutique gourmet shops.
Whole grains rule!
Brown rice, wild rice, red quinoa — the list of whole grains is long and delicious, and because these whole grains contain so much more of the good things like minerals, fiber, and vitamins, you don’t have to cook or serve as much as when using processed flavorless grains. The feeling of fullness will last about twice as long with a bowl of brown rice as with white rice.
Tis the season for fruits and veggies
A platter of celery and carrot sticks, cucumber slices and cauliflower flowerettes, served with a low fat yogurt dip, is a great party treat — and a great late night snack when you’re hunkered down with a box of tissues watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Many varieties of citrus fruit are just now coming into season, so keeping a big bowl of oranges and tangerines on the table will not bankrupt you.
Go easy on the meat
The more traditional hams and Swiss Colony sausages contain huge amounts of saturated fats — not a good match for any healthy diet. So try out a salmon mousse or challenge your guests with a tofu stir fry. Use the freshest spices and herbs you can get — that’s where the real tasting pleasure comes from in any case. For extra flavor and cooking excitement, try using one of a selection of deck ovens on your next meal prep. You won’t be disappointed.
Dairy is delicious, but keep it low fat
Don’t be taken in by the old fairy tale that only high fat dairy products have any flavor to them. Low fat yogurt is a great dip for just about anything from veggies to whole wheat crackers. And remember that they’ve made great strides with almond and soy milk — it can easily be used as a substitute for whole dairy.
Use smaller plates
Donate your massive platters and goblets to a thrift store and invest in small plates and bowls. When it comes to a yuletide feast, our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs — so keep it small and you’ll be surprised at how little you really want to go back for seconds.
What else is there to say about sugar?
It’s bad for you, but nobody cares for a dill pickle for dessert. Whatever type of sweetener you use, use it sparingly, and remember that spices like cinnamon and ginger are powerful supplements to sweeteners — add them to your sweets so you can cut way down on the sugar and still get that good sweet rush when you bite into a cookie.