The holiday season is here! That may mean good food, chilly weather, being near loved ones, and… staying healthy?! Sure! This month, some tips and tricks to help make this December a healthy one.
Food and Beverages
Eggnog – Try making a glass of half eggnog, half non-fat milk. You’ll get the flavor with way fewer calories. Also, minimize the alcohol. You’d be surprised how many calories are in liquor!
Apple Cider – Check the label on store-bought cider for added sugars, some ciders are jam-packed! Better yet, try making your own! Add spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and cranberries to a low-sugar apple juice.
Watch the Sodium
Compare Labels – Unfortunately, a lot of holiday classics, like rolls and canned foods, are loaded with sodium. Compare labels when you’re shopping, and choose lower-sodium options whenever possible. If you do pick-up some canned veggies, remember to rinse them first!
Swap the Salt – Practice your culinary skills by using herbs and spices (fresh or dried) instead of salt to add flavor to your dishes. Check out the spice guide from January’s issue for some help!
Hidden Ingredients – Even though the casserole may be named after a vegetable (green bean, sweet potato…), that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. These dishes are typically chock-full of fat, sugar and sodium. The best strategy is to limit your portion to a very small scoop, and savor it!
Portion Control – Holidays often come with a spread of delicious desserts, and it would be too hard to forego the sampling altogether. So, this season, try to limit your portions instead. Have a bite of pie, half of a cookie, a small square of fudge… you get the idea.
‘Healthier’ Baking – If you’re in charge of the desserts this year, try some simple substitutions to make your creations a little bit healthier. Exchange some of the butter for equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar-added applesauce. Try a lower-calorie sugar substitute (make sure to check the exchange). Swap heavy cream for low-fat milk. Make half of the flour whole wheat flour. Use dried fruit, like cranberries, instead of chocolate chips.
Bring a Healthy Item – When you sign-up to bring something, chose a lighter option. That way, they’ll be at least one healthy choice there!
Scope the Scene – Before you start loading your plate, check out the spread. If there are some healthy options on the table, try to fill most of your plate with these. Avoid covering half of your plate with casserole before getting to the salads!
If it’s a snowy year, get out and enjoy it! Sledding, ice skating, and even shoveling the driveway all count as physical activity!
If snow is not your thing… you can be active indoors as well! Try taking the family to the local community center to play a round of basketball. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to exercise solo, you can do lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, wall-sits etc. right at home! Or, see if there are any YouTube exercise videos you enjoy.
December – Carrots are in Season!
Try Gingered Carrot-Parsnip Puree This Month!
This holiday season, try swapping out the typical mashed potatoes, or candied carrots for this healthy, and flavorful alternative. Gingered carrot-parsnip puree will add some interest to your holiday table!
Tip: if you’re unsure about the best way to prepare the veggies (or how to perform any other cooking task), check out YouTube for a free tutorial!
Total Time: 60 Minutes (20 minutes for preparation, 40 minutes for cooking)
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3, ¼ inch-thick slices fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice (white or brown)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Chives, chopped (for garnish)
- In a large saucepan, combine the carrots, parsnips, ginger, brown sugar, rice and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Add enough water to the pan to cover the mixture by approximately 2 inches.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, lower the heat, cover the pan, and let simmer until the vegetables are tender. This should take approximately 30 minutes.
- Drain the vegetables, but save 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
- In a blender, puree the vegetables with ½ cup cooking liquid. This may have to be done in batches depending on the size of your blender.
- Blend in the butter, and 1 tsp. salt. Add more cooking liquid for a thinner puree.
- Transfer the puree to a serving dish, top with chives, and serve warm!
Recipe adapted from: http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipe-search/side-dish-recipes/gingered-carrot-parsnip-puree