Tips for a healthy hol­i­day sea­son

South Shore Breaker - - Page Two - CYNTHIA MCMURRAY ed­i­[email protected]­breaker.ca

One of the best things about the hol­i­days is get­ting to spend time with fam­ily and friends. And a big part of that re­volves around food and drink, which is why it’s not un­com­mon to overindulge at times.

The good news is that stud­ies now show the av­er­age seven-to-10-pound hol­i­day weight gain we all hear about is ac­tu­ally a myth (it’s re­ally only about one pound, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine). The bad news is the amount of sugar and other un­healthy things we tend to eat is much higher than nor­mal and can of­ten lead to a de­pleted im­mune sys­tem that leaves you sus­cep­ti­ble to lat­est bug or virus. But there is a way to have your cake and eat it too — lit­er­ally!

With just a few ad­just­ments and some sim­ple sub­sti­tu­tions, you can eas­ily make eat­ing over the hol­i­days healthy and more im­por­tantly, just as tasty. Here are a few things to con­sider:

Start with a healthy cit­rus salad Fruit is full of vi­ta­min C and an­tiox­i­dants that are vi­tal this time of year. You can use or­ganic grape­fruit, clemen­tines and beau­ti­ful blood or­anges for colour.

Peel and slice the fruit into thin slices and ar­range on side plates. Driz­zle with a thick rasp­berry or pome­gran­ate home­made bal­samic dress­ing and top with pome­gran­ate seeds and a sprig of fresh mint and a few chia seeds. Not only does this salad awaken your guests’ palates but the chia seeds of­fer a feel­ing of full­ness so you don’t need as much food later. You can top with a lit­tle plain, or­ganic yo­gurt.

Con­sider an or­ganic or freerange tur­key

There are plenty of lo­cal farm­ers that of­fer or­ganic or free-range tur­keys. The av­er­age store-bought tur­key is full of chem­i­cals and an­tibi­otics. Un­for­tu­nately, tur­keys raised on many large com­mer­cial tur­key farms are fed an­tibi­oti­claden feed as a mea­sure to counter dis­eases these birds con­tract from be­ing penned to­gether in very close quar­ters. Lo­cal farm­ers of­fer free-range and/or or­ganic birds. Many large tur­key farm­ers also use feed that con­tains GMO corn and other grains, which is a health con­cern for many peo­ple. While and or­ganic or free-range tur­key will cost a lit­tle more and tends to be smaller, they are def­i­nitely much health­ier. You can find a lo­cal free-range farmer at se­lect­no­vas­co­tia.ca.

Make your own stuff­ing Pre-pack­aged stuff­ing may be eas­ier but the av­er­age sin­gle serv­ing con­tains 43 per cent of your rec­om­mended salt for an en­tire day, high fruc­tose corn syrup and an ar­ray of chem­i­cals un­der the guise of “flavours,” in­clud­ing BHT, a preser­va­tive linked to dis­eases such as can­cer. In­stead, you can use a nice or­ganic sour­dough or any other bread you like, along with your choice of veg­eta­bles and fruits like cur­rants or cran­ber­ries. Add in some fresh herbs such as thyme and sage and raw nuts or seeds for flavour and crunch and you will have the per­fect stuff­ing for the per­fect tur­key. If you are look­ing for a quick and easy trick for stuff­ing, try sub­sti­tut­ing a con­densed or­ganic mush­room soup as the base in­stead of milk. It is full of flavour and keeps the stuff­ing nice and moist.

Make home­made gravy

Ev­ery great tur­key de­serves an even greater gravy. Un­for­tu­nately, too many peo­ple opt for the eas­ier pack­aged mix or worse, canned gravies, both of which are full of preser­va­tives and chem­i­cals and ex­cess sodium you sim­ply don’t need. Start with an or­ganic tur­key or chicken broth and make a roux us­ing a healthy flour such as chick­pea, al­mond or co­conut, for ex­am­ple. These are not only gluten-free, but they are chock­full of vi­ta­mins, fi­bre and im­por­tant min­er­als. You can also use or­ganic but­ter or olive oil for an even health­ier op­tion.

Serve ex­tra or­ganic veg­eta­bles Although the tur­key is usu­ally the high­light of most Christ­mas din­ner ta­bles, this year try serv­ing ex­tra fresh, or­ganic veg­eta­bles. Zuc­chini, squash, beets and other win­ter veg­eta­bles are not only packed with vi­ta­mins and an­tiox­i­dants but they can be quite fill­ing. You can also sub­sti­tute sweet pota­toes for reg­u­lar pota- toes or even use mashed cau­li­flower in­stead, which has the same con­sis­tency and tex­ture and is a won­der­ful sub­sti­tute that is also a good source of pro­tein, fi­bre, vi­ta­mins C, K and B6, as well as thi­amin, ri­boflavin, niacin, mag­ne­sium and phos­pho­rus.

Home­made pie Take the ex­tra time to bake you own pie this year. Pump­kin is al­ways a favourite and they are gen­er­ally low in pes­ti­cides, so they are a great choice to end a healthy Christ­mas meal. Pump­kins is also high in vi­ta­mins A, C, E and B vi­ta­mins like thi­amin, niacin, B6 and fo­late, as well as min­er­als in­clud­ing potas­sium, cop­per, man­ganese, iron, mag­ne­sium and phos­pho­rus and it is an ex­cel­lent source of di­etary fi­bre. If you choose ap­ples in­stead, make sure to use or­ganic ap­ples or buy lo­cally grown fruit, as ap­ples tend to be high in pes­ti­cides. Add a dol­lop of home­made whip cream and your guests will be beg­ging for sec­onds!

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With just a few ad­just­ments and some sim­ple sub­sti­tu­tions, you can eas­ily make eat­ing over the hol­i­days healthy and more im­por­tantly, just as tasty.

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