Don’t Be A Turkey During The Holidays!

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November 22, 2016 by Leslie Phillips, RD, LD

It’s that time of the year again … the holiday season is upon us. The average American tends to gain about five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For those individuals trying to stick to a heart healthy diet, making good decisions can sometimes be confusing. Here are a few simple tips for healthy holiday eating when out with friends:
  • Eat skinless, white meat instead of dark meat
  • Don’t go to a party overly hungry
  • Try to choose pretzels and lower fat snack mixes instead of chips (unless on a salt restriction diet)
  • Go for a 20- or 30-minute walk after a meal to keep physical activity up
  • Offer to bring a low-fat dish to the party. This way you know there will be one “safe” item
  • Choose small portions of your high-fat holiday favorites and larger portions of low-fat items
When preparing holiday meals and entertaining at home, fat and calories can also be controlled by following some simple guidelines. While preparing meats, choose leaner cuts such as loin and round. Trim all visible fat from the meat before cooking. If basting your meat, use a low-fat broth instead of the greasy drippings from the pan. Broil or bake rather than frying to reduce fat content.

Salads can make a great addition to holiday meals and are often low in fat. Be sure to choose low-fat dressings. Fresh fruit salads and steamed vegetables are a big hit with guests and low in calories. Avoid smothering your vegetables in cream, cheese or butter sauces. Try using lemon juice, herbs, and a small amount of olive oil for flavor.

And now for the good stuff … dessert. Angel food cake contains very little fat and can make a wonderful dessert when topped with fresh fruit and light cool whip. Pudding-style desserts are also easy to make low in fat and quick to whip together. Using substitutions in recipes can often reduce fat and calories without compromising taste. Some examples are listed below:
  • Applesauce instead of oil in baked items
  • Evaporated skim milk instead of cream
  • Low-fat ricotta cheese instead of cream cheese
  • Low- fat plain yogurt for sour cream
  • Two egg whites for one whole egg
Try using one of these substitutions in a dessert recipe or a favorite casserole dish of yours this holiday season. When guests are beginning to leave, send some of the leftovers home with them so as not to be “tempted” to the wayside by any of the unhealthy foods. Remember, try to make wise decisions, but enjoy yourself. You will probably find that eating well for your heart during the holidays is actually quite simple!    
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