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The holidays are a wonderful time of year, especially for those of us who enjoy food! Traditional holiday food is tasty but often high in calories, sugar, fats and sodium. This can present a challenge to those who have diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or other chronic conditions that need to be managed with healthy meal plans.

 

Many people equate healthy food with poor taste: dry texture, aftertaste, and overall bland flavors. Traditional foods can be prepared healthfully without sacrificing taste. OSU Extension offers some healthy cooking guidelines (not rules!) that one can use to modify traditional recipes:

 

  • Fats can be reduced in baked products by ¼ to 1/3. For example, if a cookie, quick bread or muffin recipe calls for 1 cup oil, use 2/3 cup instead (this method should not be used for yeast breads and pie crusts). Fats and oils add flavor and moisture so decreasing any more than 1/3 could result in poor products.
  • Use vegetable oil instead of solid fats such as lard, shortening, and butter. Solids fats, also know as saturated fats, can be detrimental to your cholesterol levels. When substituting vegetable oils for solid fats in recipes, use ¼ less than what is called for in the recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of butter, use 3 tablespoons of oil instead.
  • Use plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream. If replacing 1 cup of sour cream with 1 cup of yogurt, you can save up to 44 grams of fat!
  • Use skim or 1% milk instead of whole or half and half in recipes. By replacing 1 cup of half and half with 1 cup of skim you save 25 grams of fat.
  • Replacing ¼ to 1/3 of sugar in baked goods with artificial sweeteners or flour can help lower carbohydrates (do not use this method for yeast breads). Adding spices such as cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla will also enhance sweetness.
  • Add fiber such as whole grains instead of highly refined products. Fiber aids digestion, slows absorption of carbohydrates, and can lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Use whole wheat flour, oatmeal and whole corn meal. Whole wheat flour can be substituted up to ½ of all purpose flour.

 

Please be aware that diabetic individuals can eat any type of food as long as it fits into their diabetes management plans (balancing carbohydrates, medication, and exercise). Therefore, when preparing holiday meals and snacks for diabetic individuals it is especially important have information on serving sizes and associated grams of carbohydrate or calories. Keep in mind as well that many products labeled as “sugar-free” still have carbohydrates and can raise blood sugars!

 

Source: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5543.pdf

Author: Dan Remley, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, remley.4@osu.edu

Reviewer: Joanna Rini, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Medina County

 

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Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate your blessings and is often centered on a feast with family and friends.  Thanksgiving dinner usually features traditional dishes such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls and homemade pies. This can easily add up to 3000 calories!  Your Thanksgiving dinner can be healthy and help you avoid putting on extra pounds with just a few modifications.

Here are some tips for preparing a healthier meal.

  • Turkey.  Turkey is the star of the day.  Turkey is a lean protein and contains no saturated fat-unless you purchase a self-basting turkey that has been injected with butter or oil.  Avoid these and baste the turkey with low-fat, low-salt broth, wine or juice.  Avoid rubbing the bird with butter before roasting.  Try heart-healthy olive oil, chopped fresh herbs and garlic for a healthy delicious option. If you roast a turkey without overcooking, it won’t dry out.
  • Mashed Potatoes.  Instead of using whole milk in mashed potatoes, use skim milk.  Save yourself some time and leave the skins on the potatoes.  This provides extra fiber and potassium.
  • Stuffing.  Switch from white bread to whole-wheat bread for the benefits of whole grains.  Many traditional stuffing recipes call for butter.  Use low sodium chicken broth instead to keep it moist without the added fat or calories.  Add flavor with fresh herbs and vegetables, such as carrots, celery and onions.  Adding dried fruit is another delicious option.
  • Green Beans.  Use fresh or frozen green beans and skip the cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions.  Other vegetable options may include brussel sprouts, broccoli or asparagus.  Lightly steam these vegetables and top with a sprinkle of fresh lemon zest!
  • Sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, so we can eliminate the brown sugar and marshmallows and add maple syrup or honey during the baking process to enjoy their great flavor.
  • Cranberries.  Forgo the cranberry sauce and use fresh cranberries either in a cranberry relish with half the sugar, fresh oranges and orange juice.  Or add fresh cranberries to a salad for a great antioxidant loaded dish.
  • Gravy.  The key to great tasting gravy is using all the drippings from the roasting pan with the fat skimmed off.  This provides plenty of flavors without adding fat or calories.  Skip added butter, which adds up in calories and fat.
  • Squash.  Cut squash in bite-sized cubes, toss with a small amount of olive oil and fresh herbs and spread evenly on a baking sheet.  Roast until softened.

 

Drink plenty of water, take reasonable portions and enjoy a walk with friends and family after dinner.  The holidays are a great time for celebrating with family and friends, and with some small changes to the way you prepare your feast, you can keep off the extra pounds and still enjoy all the season has to offer!  Happy Holidays!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD.  Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County.  stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.  rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442460011

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It’s that time of year again for holiday office luncheons, parties, and family gatherings filled with festivities and food everywhere.  From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the holiday season is filled with treats that tempt even the most disciplined of individuals.  But is holiday weight gain inevitable?  Not if you follow some simple steps to help you keep off those extra holiday pounds.  Here are some tips to help you survive the season without sacrificing the fun and festivities:

  1.  Never skip a meal before a party or celebration.  This will prevent you from losing control and overeating at the party.  Skipping meals creates a famine-feast cycle.  Try to avoid standing near the food, eat from a plate, and drink a large glass of water before you eat.
  2. Focus on quality instead of quantity.  Sample one or two foods that you really like.  Keep your portions small and enjoy these special foods.
  3. Plan physical activity as a holiday celebration.  Many holiday celebrations involve the outdoors – ice skating, skiing, and sledding.  Take a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the lighting displays and decorations.
  4. Practice healthy cooking techniques. Modify recipes by reducing the amount of sugar or fat in baked products.
  5. Give the gift of health.  Rather than making candies and cookies, why not give a gift of homemade wheat bread, or a basket of fresh fruit and nuts?
  6. Watch what drinks you consume.  Limit alcoholic drinks to one or two servings, and avoid high-fat eggnog.
  7. Get enough sleep every night.  Lack of sleep can affect your metabolism by influencing your hunger and weight gain.
  8. Concentrate on socializing.  This will take your mind off of food and focus your attention on interacting with others.
  9. Prioritize your schedule.  Plan weekly family activities and celebrations.  Don’t forget to plan time for yourself.
  10. Just say “no” politely.  If you don’t feel you can eat another bite, politely say so!

Remember, this is the season to celebrate with family and friends.  Planning ahead is an important strategy to help you maintain weight or prevent weight gain over the holidays.  Celebrate, but don’t overdo it!

Author:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences & the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Ohio State University Extension.

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