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Holiday eating

December 3, 2011
Reinbeck Courier

Holidays: a season that brings the joys of family gatherings and gift-giving, often results in unwanted, unhealthy weight gain. Crystal Petersen, RD, LD; Food & Nutrition Services Manager at Grundy County Memorial Hospital, offers the following proven strategies to navigate through the season of high-fat buffet tables, sugary treats and candy without gaining a pound:

Create Priceless Memories: Focus on planning, celebrating and working on the meal as a family. Ask children for their input and include them in the chores. Encourage them to help shop, prepare foods, and set the table. Activity burns calories and takes the attention off of eating the food itself. When the meal is over, put the food away and get out your favorite games and play with the kids. Taking the time to plan other activities for the celebration will help get everyone out of the kitchen and away from the leftovers.

Healthy Substitutions: Modify your traditional holiday dishes using evaporated skim milk for recipes that call for cream (examples: vegetable cream sauces or mashed potatoes). Prepare a whole grain stuffing using wild rice, kasha or quinoa. Look for dessert recipes that include whole grains, healthy oils, grated, or pureed veggies and nuts. Beverages easily carry large amounts of sugar. Offer skim eggnog and flavored calorie-free soda waters. You still get the fizz and the flavor without the extra sugar.

Watch Portion Sizes: Use smaller plates; even use smaller plates for children. It works! Arrange the food so the fruits and vegetables are first on the buffet table and plan to fill half your plate with these dishes. If you're eating family-style, pass the fruit and vegetable dishes first. Avoid seconds and thirds. One filled plate plus treating yourself to that traditional family dessert is plenty. Savor the flavors and enjoy every bite!

Keep the Kids in Mind Young kids do not need as many calories as adults. Unnecessary extras easily send kids well over their caloric requirements. If an extra isn't necessary don't add it. Examples are buttering an already buttery biscuit for a child or over- sized portions of gravy and whipped cream.

Don't Skip meals: Skipping meals to save calories for the BIG holiday feast is not a good idea for children or adults. This idea leads to overeating during the celebration meal. The holiday schedule is quite disruptive of our meal and activity routines. Make sure you have something to eat at your regularly schedule meal and snack times.

Role Model: Be a role model for your family. Your healthy behavior and choices can inspire your spouse, kids and grandchildren especially the children. Mounding plates of food and second and third trips back to the buffet do not go unnoticed. Set a good example and children will follow. A parent or grandparent can help a child learn how to avoid overindulging.

Healthy Traditions: Plan activities, outdoor if possible. A trip to the ice skating rink, hiking, cross country ski rental, an after dinner walk and family football are just a few ideas. Too cold or rainy? How about a family tournament of Dance Dance Revolution or Wii! It's never too late to build your holiday traditions around activities instead of meals. You, your children and grandchildren will always remember these great times together.

Be a Gatekeeper Keep healthful foods stocked throughout the holiday season. Make good options convenient. Try keeping clear storage containers in your refrigerator stocked full of prepared veggies, diced melon, clean and ready to eat strawberries and apple and orange slices. String cheese, whole grain low fat crackers, and yogurt are easy and delicious. Resist the habit of placing cookie trays and candy dishes on the table or counter throughout the day.

Sweet Potato Bake

(2 quart casserole dish 8 servings)

3 cups peeled, cooked & mashed sweet potatoes or yams

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs or 1/2 cup liquid eggs or egg substitute

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon, ground

1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground

1/4 cup milk, skim

Preheat oven to 325 F. Coat 2-quart casserole dish with pan spray.

Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla & spices. Beat with electric mixer until smooth.

Add milk and mix well. Pour into casserole dish


1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Mix topping ingredients in a small bowl with a fork

Sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole

Bake for 25 30 minutes, until potatoes are hot (> 165 F) and topping is golden.

This recipe is delicious. A typical sweet potato dish may call for twice the sugar and butter and cream instead of milk. Also consider preparing whipped sweet potatoes instead of or with traditional mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A and fiber.

Glacier Punch

(Approximately 18 8 oz. cups)

2 750 ml bottles Sparkling White Grape Juice

2 1000 ml bottles Sparkling Raspberry Carbonated Water (Calorie Free)

1 1000 ml bottle Sparkling Lime Carbonated Water (Calorie Free)

Pour grape juice and flavored sparkling waters over an ice ring in large punch bowl. Serve.

For more information on GCMH services, please visit our website at or call (319) 824-5421.



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