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Preparation is key to holiday health

Dietitian Becky Varner shares ideas for navigating your health through the holidays.
BY BECKY VARNER beckyvarner@cox.net Published: November 28, 2012
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There are many strategies to implement to create a healthy balance for good nutrition and activity during the holidays:

•  Start with how you think and focus on the meaning of the celebration along with the festive food, activity and fun.

•  Be realistic and don't try to lose weight during the holidays but instead focus on maintaining your current weight. Remember that if you have gained weight during the holiday season in the past, maintaining weight is an improvement.

•  Maintain a regular balanced diet including breakfast, lunch and dinner with two or three small snacks throughout the day to prevent getting too hungry, which can lead to overeating at parties.

•  Plan time for regular activity to make sure it happens. Enjoy walks, bike rides or a trip to the fitness center. This helps burn extra calories and is an outlet for managing stress.

•  Once arriving at the party, check out the food before making selections.

Choose a petite portion of five or six foods you would most like to try.

Move away from the food table to another part of the room to visit with friends or to make new acquaintances.

Finally, whether you are hosting a party or offering a treat to share as a guest at a party you are attending, there are many delicious options.

We have three ideas for you to try.


Strawberry Dip served with a Fruit and Nut Tray

Makes 24 servings

1 cup fat free ricotta cheese

¼ cup fat free vanilla yogurt

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon coconut flavoring

8 ounces partially thawed frozen unsweetened strawberries

4 red delicious apples

4 green pears

¼ cup unsweetened apple juice with vitamin C

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup whole almonds

• Combine ricotta cheese, yogurt, powdered sugar, coconut flavoring and strawberries in blender. Blend on medium to high speed until smooth. Pour into a chilled serving dish.

• Core apples and pears and slice in eighths. Place fruit in bowl and add apple juice. This will prevent fruit from turning brown.

• Just before serving remove fruit from apple juice and drain. Arrange apples, pears, pecans, almonds and strawberry dip on serving tray.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 3 cups of strawberry dip or 24 two tablespoon servings. Each serving of dip contains approximately 16 calories and no fat.

Variations: Other fruits are delicious with this dip. Try pineapple chunks, grapes and other favorites if desired. If you are short on time to prepare fruit dip try just using strawberry or cherry fat free yogurt for a dip. It is delicious!

Garlic Dip

Makes 10 servings

½ cup fat free ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1½ tablespoons minced garlic

½ teaspoon black pepper

15 ounce can of garbanzo beans, drained

• Place ricotta cheese, lime juice, garlic and pepper in blender. Blend on medium to high speed until smooth.

• Add garbanzo beans and blend again a few seconds. Turn the blender off and scrape the sides of the blender as necessary with a spatula and continue blending until smooth.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 1¼ cups dip and a serving is two tablespoons. Each serving contains approximately 44 calories and .5 gram of fat.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with raw vegetables such as baby carrots, celery sticks, mini peppers or large bell peppers cut in strips, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli or cauliflower florets. This dip can also be used as a sandwich spread.

The following nonalcoholic fruit punch is delicious, high in vitamin C and is beautiful served in a punch bowl.

Cranberry Citrus Punch

Makes 10 servings

2 cups reduced calorie cranberry juice, chilled

4 cups orange juice, chilled

4 cups diet tonic water, chilled

1 lime, sliced horizontally in ¼-inch slices

1 orange, sliced horizontally in ¼-inch slices

• Pour cranberry juice, orange juice and diet tonic water in a large punch bowl.

• Use ladle to stir.

• Arrange fruit slices on top to float.

• Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 10 one cup servings. Each serving contains approximately 58 calories and no fat.

Class for edible gifts offered

Becky will teach a class on making healthy edible Christmas gifts, including Spaghetti Sauce Mix, Salad Dressing Mix, Friendship Soup In A Jar, Heart Healthy Basket and Pomander Balls at the following locations: at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond; at noon Dec. 5 at Buy For Less, 10011 SE 15 St. in Midwest City; at noon Dec. 11 at the Buy For Less, 3501 NW Expressway; at noon Dec. 12 at the Buy For Less, 2500 N Pennsylvania Ave. Class size is limited, call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.

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