4 Better Food Choices this Christmas

4 Better Food Choices this Christmas

With Christmas just a day away, let's not forget amid the festivities and celebrations, the food and the drinks, about that special someone we may know in our lives who is suffering from obesity, diabetes, a heart condition, or other chronic illness only worsened by bad food choices.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed year after year and the memories we have surrounding these special occasions are a result of the people we share them with. Of course, some of these individuals are indeed characters - but, healthy characters are more fun than sick characters!

That said, I have put together some ideas for great recipe trade-offs to decrease the overall carbohydrate and fat in some of our favorite holiday treats.

A quick review of the goal:

Bad fats increase insulin resistance. This means when we eat foods that have fat, (especially animal fat,) the muscles and brain are resistant to insulin (the key that lets carbohydrates in.) This further causes carbohydrate to be left in the blood vessels where it does a lot of damage, only to be flushed out of the body in the urine rather than get to the muscles and brain, where it's supposed to go.

In other words, if everyone can cut down on the sugar and fat, they will feel better and enjoy the holidays a lot more and a lot longer.

  • Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Leave the skins on fruits to increase the fiber content and texture of the salad. Avoid canned fruits.

Instead of adding mounds of sugar to the recipe, try Stevia and a little honey; the key is a small amount and let the salad sit over night to allow the fruits to release their own sugars.

Nuts are a wonderful choice, so leave those in.

If you make a whipped topping, use a lower fat, natural recipe, rather than one filled with artificial products. There are easy-to-make whipped toppings using coconut milk, do a little research!

  • Green Beans

Beans are one of the healthiest items on the menu. But, when there is added bacon, ham hock, or other high-fat, high-salt item, this turns a beautiful recipe into a “killer recipe” for everyone who eats a bite.

Why not use leaner pork or other lean meats, like venison, to flavor the beans? Adding lean venison sausage that has garlic and peppercorns and possibly a little jalapeno for seasoning makes a wonderful flavoring for green beans and doesn’t sabotage them. Leave out the meat altogether for a delectable and healthy veggie dish.

  • Yams & Sweet Potatoes

This is one of the healthiest items on the menu. The cinnamon is an outstanding option. THEN, the butter, marshmallows, and other "foods" are added.

Use stevia instead of sugar, almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and increase the vanilla and maple extracts for flavor. Apple sauce is a great thing to add with the sweet potatoes to help carry the texture and flavors. Chopped pecans with a ½ mixture of butter and canola/grapeseed oil will give you wonderful crunchiness and less fat.

  • Flavorings and Seasonings

Don’t forget that salt for most individuals doesn’t come from the salt shaker - it comes from processed products. So, making items from scratch and buying food that looks like food is optimal.

Use seasonings like garlic and onion powder instead of garlic and onion salt. Increase the number of plant seasonings you add to your cooking. Fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc. are easily broken off and used in your dishes for wonderful aroma and flavor.

Use extra vegetables and fruits to give meats more appeal. Carrots, lemons, oranges, limes, etc. can be cut in half and put inside birds, on pans while other items cook and on the hot stove to give your food and home a wonderful aroma.

Cooked fruits on the side or inside the bird are easily topped with cinnamon and eaten as an addition to the meal.

Have breakfast the morning of your intended gatherings. Your daily Blast with vegetables is a great choice. Do not fast for an intended feast.

Remember, leftovers are the best part of any festive meal, so there is no need to eat everything on the table in the first hour. Eat a small amount and have seconds later.

Happy Holidays, all!

Don’t forget to use your NutriBullet to help in the kitchen this holiday season.

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

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