The holiday season is when we quickly approach the end of year. It’s also the time when we spend the last weeks of the year with close friends and family. Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas and New Years are up ahead. With the upcoming diet resolutions currently being planned for 2014, take it upon yourself to get a head start by incorporating these healthy eating choices for the holidays.
Here are some healthy eating changes you should consider when cooking for the family.
Changes to the Stuffing
If it won’t cost you to put away the pre-packaged stuffing, make your own. Here is a very simple and basic stuffing recipe. Some moderations to make is to substitute white bread for whole-grain bread, and to use a low-sodium chicken broth (or stock, as some call it). Go even further by buying a fat-free version of broth. You can also omit the yolk and simply use egg whites rather than a whole egg. Finally, use unsalted butter for a lower-sodium stuffing.
More Dark Green Veggies
Do you enjoy vegetables? Add more dark green vegetables as side dishes. Green vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K and low in carbs. The USDA recommends that we eat about 1 ½ cups of dark green vegetables weekly. But the more you eat, the better since most Americans aren’t reaching that recommendation. These vegetables include kale (a popular veggie right now), broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and romaine lettuce. Be creative and add these green veggies to other dishes—like adding spinach to the corn side dish or even the stuffing.
Baked Pasta Dishes or Casseroles
If you’re making baked dishes like lasagna or baked ziti, take the opportunity to make a low-fat version. Since both ziti and lasagna dishes use lots of cheese and meat, which makes them higher in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, shop for light and part-skim versions of mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Most markets sell some kind of reduced sodium and fat cheeses. Also use chicken and turkey meat, instead of ground beef or pork Italian sausage, as they are a much leaner meat.
Herbs and Spices
Use as many herbs and spices as you can, such as rosemary, saffron, ginger, chile pepper, cilantro, parsley, or basil. Aside from making your food smell and taste good, many of these spices and herbs are beneficial for your health, particularly in helping keep your blood, sugar, and cholesterol levels low, and also aiding in digestion.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Since you’re cooking, you’re already carrying out one of the best ways to reduce sodium intake—cooking from scratch. Go a step further and try to do that for every dish by buying fresh ingredients and products. Avoid processed canned foods when you can, as they are extremely high in sodium. If you must use canned foods, check the labels and read how many milligrams (mg) of sodium there is per serving; try to stay away from anything that has over 400 mg of sodium per serving, as that is considered high. As mentioned above, simply incorporate more spices for flavor to reduce the amount of salt you’d use.
Make use of these healthy eating choices and treat your family to healthy meals.
Interested in more healthy eating related info? Go here.