happy healthy holidays

Editor’s note:We are really thrilled that Alyson connected with us!  Her passion and enthusiasm for getting people educated on food is amazing.  Alyson is a Registered Dietician/Licensed Dietician with the communication skills to bridge terms/information about nutrition and food to simple, easily understandable messages we can use every day.  How to read food labels, understanding nutrition needs and content, how to shop smart at a grocery store and saving money are topics she addresses and will continue to address with individual conversations or presentations!  Thanks Alyson!

Happy Holidays everyone!  I absolutely love this magical time of year!  As my career has advanced over the past few years, my travels home have decreased significantly.  The holiday season allows me to spend precious time spent with the ones I love the most, my family!  This year I have been extremely blessed by the wonderful new friends I have met through runhers.  You have encouraged me, pushed me, and challenged me to be a better person.  I now know that you have to set goals to be able to achieve them, you will survive running in 102 or 20 degree temps, and most importantly running shoes are more than just pretty accessories.  You have given me so much that I wanted to give something back.  My passion is food.  Food is much more than just something we eat.  It becomes a part of us, the way it nourishes our body, the way it bring us together, and through the culture it creates.   However, it can be overwhelming for us who struggle with balancing our health.  My best advice, enjoy traditional holiday meals and party foods with family and friends while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, too.  You can have it all, you just have to BALANCE.Ultimately you are in the driver’s seat, you are in control.   Keeping in mind a few simple steps can make a big impact on your holiday intake.  Start with taking the edge off your hunger before you go to a party.  If you skip meals throughout the day you will be more likely to over indulge from hunger.  Food options at parties tend to be less nutrient dense so fill up during the day.  Party buffets can keep you coming back for more, but one trip can do the trick.  Fill up your plate the first time with lots of fiber by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grainsThen go back for some of your favorites.  You’ll be less likely to overindulge if you’re already full.  Use a smaller plate, if a salad plate is available use it for your entrees.  This will keep your portion sizes in check.  Alcohol calories can add up fast so for every alcoholic beverage you have, rotate with a glass of water.  This will keep you hydrated and prevent you from doing anything inappropriate at the holiday office party.  You can also try sparkling water and a lime twist rather than alcohol.

The best way to ensure there will be something healthy and delicious at a party is to bring a dish yourself.  There are lots of easy to prepare recipes such as zucchini and brown rice casserole, bean salad with variety of beans; green beans, lima beans, pinto and black beans, or whole-grain pasta salad.  You can also use GuidingStars.com can help find healthy recipes.  Simple substitutions in your holiday food prep can save you precious calories and fat!  Using two egg whites in place of one egg can reduce the cholesterol and produce the same tasty result.  Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and lighten holiday fat content.   Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads like banana bread.   For dips, sauces and pie toppings use non-fat greek yogurt, sour cream and whipped topping.   Sliced almonds make a delicious, crunchy topping in place of fried onion rings.   Choose reduced-fat or non-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles.

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping can be exhausting.  You want to make sure you continue to stay active and keep on track so don’t forget the fruits and vegetables.  Here’s some “on the go” options:

  • Pack raw fruits or vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, apples or bananas
  • Snack on hummus and vegetables on whole-grain bread or crackers
  • Make lettuce wraps filled with black beans, peppers and onions
  • Fill a thermos with vegetable or tomato soup

Let’s face it, you want to spend your money on presents for your loved ones, not your food budget.  It‘s easy to save money on groceries during the season.  Start by buying frozen vegetables and fruit.  Many fruits and veggies aren’t in season this time of year which can really spike your grocery bill.  Shop from bulk bins so you can buy smaller amounts, especially for those specialty recipes you’ll probably not make again anytime soon.  Buy produce that keeps longer in the refrigerator such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage or carrots.  And lastly, use leftovers for weekly meals.  For example, here is a great soup recipe using your leftover turkey and mashed potatoes!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups chopped cooked turkey (about 1 pound)
  • 2 1/2 cups mashed cooked peeled baking potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broth, turkey, potatoes, and chopped sage, stirring with a whisk until blended; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in pepper. Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.

Here’s to staying happy and healthy during the holiday season!  All the best!

~ Alyson

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