Fruits and Vegetables: How to Eat Clean During the Holidays

Fruits and Vegetables: How to Eat Clean During the Holidays

The holidays can be a real challenge for those with diabetes or those otherwise keeping an eye on their carb intake. This is because eating healthy is a burden on most people, not a wholesome and inviting choice. But this time of year can also be a time to enjoy a new foods, new recipes, new flavors and, most of all, gain ideas for the rest of the year’s menu as we share our tables with one another.

Knowing that every recipe can be great without being packed with calories and carbohydrates is a great thing! We've learned a tremendous amount from studies that show the human body does much better when it works with fewer calories, not more. And, when it gets calories, that fuel is most efficiently used when it's in the form of lean protein and vegetables. So, in celebration of the season, we can use this to our advantage and focus on creating lean proteins and vivacious vegetable recipes that will carry on for many years to come.

And, don’t forget, we have our NutriBullet to help us make these recipes their absolute best. Whether we need to make a sweet and sour apricot/apple cider puree for our pork tenderloin or a tart raspberry-blueberry topping to drizzle over a brownie with some whipped coconut cream, the NutriBullet makes it a breeze.

Increasing your vegetable selection throughout the holidays is a fantastic way to keep blood sugars stable, calories down and the mind clear. Carrying these recipes into your main meals will also help keep you satiated, so you aren't craving as much of the junk - necessary for you and your health and wellness.

Need ideas? The typical serving of mashed potatos, sweet peas and gravy gives you about 240 calories and 60 grams of carbohydrate. Add dressing to that and you have another 80-160 calories and another 15-30 grams of carbohydrate.

What if someone instead makes a lovely, shredded slaw of all julienne-sliced cabbage, carrots, apples with peel, parsnips, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, and then coats this in a honey-dijon/apple-cider vinegar dressing? Incredibly tasty, delightful, seasonal, and rings in at about 30 calories per cup, with about 8-12 carbs per cup, depending on how much apple and honey is used. And it goes amazingly well with turkey!

A head of cauliflower fully cooked in the microwave can then be mashed in a big bowl for a potato-like recipe that's an exceptional surprise. Sautéed sliced mushrooms, minced garlic, minced onion, a tablespoonful of Smart Balance butter (green version), crushed pepper, a bit of salt to flavor, other flavors like rosemary, thyme, jasmine, nutmeg, etc. can be awesome seasoning options. Personally, I love also adding large walnut halves. I add a few dried cranberries, a small bit of frozen corn, mix all in a pan and bake it with a bit of shredded cheese on top.

Using cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes and limiting the cranberries and corn to simply provide a bit of flavor reduces this recipe's calories and carbohydrate tremendously.

Enjoy your holidays and be creative with the vegetables. Add them in any place you can, even in desserts. They can turn an okay dessert into a spectacular one!

For example, carrots, sliced longwise with a slicer and topped with cinnamon and a bit of stevia and clove oil are a great treat when baked on a cookie sheet. Some like a bit of clove oil added to the cinnamon before baking the carrots; I actually enjoy drying them and dipping in Greek yogurt.

Simply having fruit in place of pie or cake typically reduces calories and carbohydrates by at least half. This is a tremendous benefit and adding nuts and seeds to the fruit offers a complex combination of good fats and protein.

So, happy holidays and remember to enjoy your vegetables, fruits and lean proteins!

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

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