Now that we’ve covered all the basics of healthy eating, using MyPlate as our guide, it’s time for the ultimate test: the holidays.
Unlike Thanksgiving, which entails a single day of over-indulging, the winter holidays are much sneakier. Work parties, family gatherings, and meeting up with visiting friends can take up every weekend in December, and eventually take its toll on your waistline and health. Between Hanukkah, Christmas, end-of-semester stress, end-of-quarter celebrations, and finally New Years, we could take in an average of 500-1000 extra calories a day in December!
But fear not! Healthy holiday meals are just a click away. We’ve got some great tips and recipes to keep you fit over the winter holidays.
Before you keep reading, make sure to check out our MyPlate Mondays intro for more tips, as well as our articles on grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, and dairy. The key to any healthy diet is to remember to make half your plate fruits and veggies, more than a quarter grain, and less than a quarter protein, with a healthy side of dairy.
So keeping MyPlate in mind, check out our simple holiday dinner of healthy, traditional items, complete with our personal “pro twists” to add something extra.
Appetizer: grilled cauliflower soup
- cauliflower, onions, skim milk, and low-sodium vegetable stock provide tons of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and calcium
- baking the soup into a cheese crust offers a fun take on a traditional appetizer
- pro twist: decorating this white soup with a sprinkle of paprika and a spring of rosemary will add a touch of holiday colors
Entrée: glazed ham with apricots
- lean ham (shank preferably) provides B6, potassium, zinc, and tons of protein
- served with the apricots, it provides healthy fruit as well
- pro twist: for a seasonal vegetarian entrée, try this butternut squash lasagna, adding mushrooms for protein and substituting whole wheat flour
Side Dish: orange-maple sweet potatoes
- heart-healthy dish with lots of beta-carotene and fiber
- the orange and maple add delightful Christmas smells and tastes
- pro twist: garnish with tangerine slices for a sweet and healthy accent
Dessert: black bean peppermint brownies
- add a healthy dose of fiber and protein to a delicious treat
- if you’re using a boxed brownie mix, just match the contents of the package with black beans in water (which easily doubles your recipe for large parties)
- pro twist: top with crushed candy canes for even more winter cheer
Finally, instead of the traditional mulled wine or cider, choose a lighter option such as a green tea hot toddy. You can either brew the tea in the alcohol of your choice (gin is a good low-cal option), or spike the warm tea with a bit of rum or whiskey. Add a spoon of honey and you’ll have a deliciously warm and healthy drink. Pro twist: add a sprinkle of cinnamon for a little more holiday flavor.