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