Taste of Health Francesca Ballicu | 6 years ago

A Dietitian's Guide to Healthy Eating This Holiday

10 expert tips for eating better this season, with a holiday recipe for a healthy side dish.

Guest Article by Debbie Geraci, RD, LDN, CDE at Carolinas Diabetes Center Eating healthy around the holidays can be challenging, especially when you’re expected to attend celebrations loaded with diet pitfalls. Here are my tips for enjoying a healthier holiday season: 1) Eat your favorite meat and vegetables first. Not only will this help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream, but it will also fill your stomach so you will be less likely to overeat on breads, potatoes and dessert. You can also bring a veggie tray to munch on while the food is being prepared. Vegetables are only 25 calories for ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw. 2) Bring your favorite recipe to the gathering that you know keeps your blood sugars low. 3) Use recipe replacements to reduce the calories in your favorite holiday dishes (no one will know the difference!):
  • Replace white sugar with a healthier substitute like honey or stevia.
  • 2 egg whites = 1 egg. Great to use in baked goods.
  • Replace oil with unsweetened applesauce. This is great in baked goods as well.
4) Skip foods that are not worthy. If you can have a roll at any time, then pass on it and enjoy something that you can only have once or twice a year. 5) Allow yourself to eat one more additional carb for the special occasion, but still use caution. That way you won’t feel deprived. 6) Take a walk after the meal with a friend or family member. It’s a great way to catch up with them and burn some calories in the process. 7) Use a smaller plate. If you fill up a small plate, your mind feels satisfied. It's a mental game, but it works! 8) Excuse yourself after eating to go brush your teeth. This will prevent you from wanting to eat more at the moment. You can also carry sugar-free gum and use it instead. 9) Drink water with your meal. This allows you to taste your food better and will also help fill up your stomach. Some studies have found that soft drinks – whether regular or sugar-free – can stimulate your appetite and cause you to overeat. 10) Remember that the holidays are for gathering with family and friends and enjoying each other's company. It doesn't mean that we need to have excess food. These tips will help you to enjoy the holidays and prevent you from gaining the five or more pounds that are typical this time of year. Enjoy this healthy alternative to the traditional sweet potato casserole. This recipe is from Diabetes Forecast and it’s one of my favorites!

Maple & Pecan Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 small (3- to 4-oz.) sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
For the topping:
  • 3 tbsp. chopped pecans
  • ¼ tsp. ground red pepper
  • 2 tsp. melted reduced-fat margarine
  1. Place potato cubes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender. Drain.
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the half-and-half, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Add the sweet potatoes and mix with a beater set on medium speed or, for a slightly chunkier casserole, just mash with a potato masher. Spoon the potato mixture into a casserole dish.
  1. Combine all topping ingredients and sprinkle over the potato mixture. Serve immediately or cover and freeze up to two weeks. If freezing for later, defrost in the refrigerator the night before baking, then cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until pecans have browned and potatoes are hot.
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