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Food for Thought: Five Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

Written by Lisa Jillanza

‘Tis the season for eating… turkey, stuffing, pies, cookies, cakes, ham and all the sides! But how do you stay on your healthy eating track when it is so easy to get sidetracked with the holidays?

Experts weighed in (no pun intended) on this topic and have come up with these five healthy eating tips to help you keep those diet goals and still enjoy the delicious meals of the season!

  1. “Holiday-proof” your diet. How you ask? Try to eat as close to your normal eating times as possible, offer to bring a healthy treat to the meal, if you want to eat dessert maybe cut back on other carbohydrates during dinner and don’t skip meals to save up for dinner.
  2. “Outsmart the buffet.” Ways to do this include eat on a smaller plate and resist seconds, eat slowly so you feel fuller, start with vegetables so you fill up quicker and avoid (or limit) your alcohol.
  3. Add your favorites instead of eliminating them. If you only eat pumpkin pie once a year, then eat the pumpkin pie! Just make sure that you account for that in your diet plan/calorie count.
  4. Keep up with your exercising. While the holidays can be a busy time, make sure that you still try to fit your physical exercise in like you normally would. Being active can help you offset that extra eating that you will be doing and reduce your stress.
  5. Get your sleep. Because the holidays are such a busy time, you might be going out more and staying out later. Sleep loss may make it harder for you to stick to your diet and exercise plan. Getting your sleep will also prevent late night snacking.

Most of all, when you celebrate with the people that you care about, you will find that you are focusing on the fun not the food.

Eating Healthy: Spotlight on Cranberries

Written by Lisa Jillanza
  • Cranberries contain high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. They also include only 45 calories per cup.
  • Cranberry's juice can be used for the prevention of urinary tract infections and bacterial adhesion in the stomach.
  • The same bacteria preventing ability of the cranberry juice can avert the formation of plaque, which leads to fewer cavities. 

 

Health benefits of cranberries

 Recipe: Easy Cranberry Bread 

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon, rind of
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 3/4 cups cranberries, chopped 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add egg, finely grated orange peel, lemon peel, and orange juice all at once; carefully stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Fold in cranberries. Spoon and spread evenly into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. 

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. 

Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries. Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.  Once the cranberries have burst you can leave the cranberry sauce as is or dress it up with other ingredients. We like to mix in a half a cup of chopped pecans with a few strips of orange zest. Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. Remove the pot from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator.

Eating Healthy: Spotlight on Turkey

Written by Lisa Jillanza

It's that time again for Thanksgiving and while Americans eat it nearly every year to celebrate Thanksgiving, how much do you know about turkey?

  • Turkey is very low in fat and high in protein. It is also a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins.
  • The fat and calorie amounts vary because white meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat and skin.
  • Turkey is also naturally low in sodium. It typically contains less than 25 milligrams (mg) of sodium per ounce on average.

Recipe: Turkey Chili

  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 (35 oz.) cans stewed tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¾ cup chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more if desired to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded, cooked turkey meat
  • Sugar
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream for optional garnishes

In a large, 8-quart thick bottom pot, cook the onion and green pepper over medium heat, stirring until golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, for a minute or two more.  Add a bit more olive oil if needed.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, beans, oregano, salt, pepper and cooked turkey meat.  Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low.  Simmer uncovered for an hour.

Recipe: Creamed Turkey

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup hot chicken broth
  • 1 small jar diced pimento, drained
  • 4 cups diced cooked turkey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter over medium-low heat. Sauté mushrooms until golden and tender. Add flour; stir until smooth. Slowly pour on milk and broth, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Add pimiento, turkey, salt and pepper. Cook until heated through, but do not boil. Serve with rice or toast.

Food 101: Never Do This with Your Potatoes

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in Americans homes and a quick and easy item to have on hand for meals. But did you know that there are some things that you should never do with potatoes?

Here are what you shouldn’t be doing with your spuds:

Never store your potatoes with your apples- apples produce high amounts of ethylene gas, which causes potatoes to spoil prematurely.

Never store them in a cold, dry environment – instead, keep them in cool, dark place away from other fruits and vegetables.

Never store potatoes near bananas, melons, onions, pears, peaches, avocados, and tomatoes – these also produce high levels of ethylene gas and should be stored separately.

Food for Thought: Pumpkin vs. Sweet Potato – Who Wins the Nutritious Fall Battle?

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Two delicious, and very similarly tasting, foods of fall – pumpkins and sweet potatoes – are both popular, but which one packs more of a nutritional punch?

Here we put these two fall favorites to the nutritional test…

Reducing the risk of chronic disease:

High amounts of beta-carotene are found in both pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Experts say that diets high in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and protects against heart disease. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 5,140 micrograms of beta-carotene and one cup of cooked sweet potatoes contains 31,000 micrograms of beta-carotene. Winner? Sweet potato.

Immunity-boosting vitamins:

Both pumpkins and sweet potatoes are both rich in vitamins that boost immunity, like vitamin A. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 245% RDI (recommended daily intake) of vitamin A and 19% RDI of vitamin C.

Yet sweet potato knocks pumpkin out of the park with one cup providing 774% of vitamin A and 53% of vitamin C. Winner? Sweet potato.

Gut Health:

Good sources of fiber encourage a healthy gut. With 8.2 grams of fiber in one cup of sweet potato, this one once again beats out pumpkin with only 3 grams of fiber. Winner? Sweet potato.

The Final Result?

Although both vegetables are great fall food choices when you place them in a side-by-side comparison, sweet potatoes edge out pumpkin due to its nutritional make-up from vitamin A to fiber to protein. Pumpkin is a light, lower sugar option, but if you want a heavy, nutritious food that gives your body more nutrients then sweet potatoes is the choice to make.

Winner: Sweet Potato.