Party Heartfully This Holiday Season

Registered dietitian Becky Varner shares recipes and insights for navigating the holidays with your health in mind.
BY BECKY VARNER beckyvarner@cox.net Published: November 28, 2012
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There is no doubt that it can be a challenge to maintain healthful eating habits during the Christmas season when there are so many festive events involving food! But there are many tips to follow that make it easier to make healthful food choices. First of all be realistic. This is not the best time for most people to attempt losing weight. Instead think about healthful eating and weight maintenance during the season.

Make a plan including strategies for handling challenging food situations such as parties and festive foods at work. Implement the plan early.

For example, enjoy a light snack before leaving for a special party to take the edge off of hunger. Sometimes people make the mistake of eating too little during the day of a party planning to save calories to enjoy more at the party. What often occurs is they are so hungry by the time they arrive at the party that they overeat and actually consume more calories than if eating normally during the day. Try having a piece of fruit, cup of yogurt, half of a lean deli meat sandwich or a few crackers with low-fat cheese ahead of time to avoid arriving at the party famished and then overeating.

When arriving at the party, focus on the people and the celebration instead the food.

Make a new friend, enjoy time with friends you haven't seen for a while, focus on the real meaning of Christmas and listen to the music. But minimize the food.

Before selecting any food, take a look at the entire food table and decide which five or six foods you would most enjoy. Take a small portion of each. And then move away from the food table! Take your food to the other side of the room or go to another room where people are gathering. Mingling around the food table can be a visual trigger to get more food even when you are no longer hungry.

Eat slowly and take time to savor your food and really enjoy it. Take small bites and chew each bite at least 10 to 12 times to get the most pleasure from it. Consciously visit with other people between taking bites.



Crostini Two Ways

For the Crostini

16 ounce whole wheat baguette

2 tablespoons olive oil

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

• Slice baguette into 32 slices (about ½-inch thick each).

• Using a small pastry brush, baste each slice with olive oil.

• Place basted side up on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

• Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown on top.

For the Salmon-Dill Topping

½ cup fat free ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¾ cup canned salmon (about ½ of a 15 ounce can), drained

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

16 fresh dill sprigs for garnish

• Combine ricotta, green onion and black pepper and mix well.

• Add salmon and mix.

• Gently fold in dill weed. This makes 1 cup.

• Spread 1 tablespoon on each of 16 of the crostini. Garnish each with a fresh dill sprig.

This recipe makes 16 appetizers. Each contains approximately 58 calories and 1.5 grams fat.

For the Olive-ArtichokeTopping

1 cup water packed artichoke hearts, chopped

¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

• Combine artichoke hearts, olives, parsley and pepper. Mix well.

• Spread 1 tablespoon on each of 16 of the crostini. Sprinkle each with Parmesan.

This recipe makes 16 appetizers. Each contains approximately 51 calories and 1.5 grams fat.

Source: Becky Varner

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