Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent
When thinking of the holiday season, what comes to your mind first? Could it be the fellowship with family and friends? Or does your mind drift toward the special food shared and enjoyed?
The holiday season brings many special celebrations with fun, family, and food galore. Many families have traditions centered on fabulous foods and drinks they get to enjoy only a few times a year.
While celebrations are encouraged, it is wise to think carefully and make a plan of action to enjoy the great tasting holiday foods while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Many favorite holiday dishes, such as candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie, begin with a healthy main ingredient. The large amounts of fats and sugars added to these are what causes the dishes to become less healthful.
The dietary guidelines at ChooseMyPlate.gov encourage consumers to cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt. Research shows these lifestyle changes can help you to avoid weight gain and chronic diseases.
To create a healthier dish, try concentrating on the “star” ingredient and enhance the flavor with herbs and spices. For example, let’s take a look at Green Bean Casserole.
The “star” ingredient found in this dish would be the green beans. If we wanted to create a healthier dish that still uses green beans, we should focus on how to enhance this flavor. Sautéing green beans with savory foods or herbs such as onions, mushrooms, and minced garlic would be a healthy way to enjoy your favorite green bean dish.
When comparing the two dishes, a traditional serving (½ cup) of Green Bean Casserole is 180 calories, while the same sized serving of the green bean sauté dish is only 35 calories, making this dish the healthier choice.
This holiday season we encourage you to practice focusing on the “star” ingredients or fruits and vegetables of a dish. With a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy great tasting holiday foods and still maintain a healthy lifestyle!
If you have any questions on creating healthful dishes this holiday season, please feel free to contact me at (620) 382-2325.