Get rid of that guilt you endure each holiday as you savor your favorite festive dishes. Many of your seasonal eats may be healthier than you think.
Itís likely that when you begin to doze while watching the game after dinner you may attribute your drowsiness to the turkey you devoured. However, the protein-rich bird is most likely not the cause of your instant slumber. Overeating is the probable cause, as more of your blood is diverted to your digestive system from your heart and lungs.
Turkey is actually a hearty source of protein. The bird is low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and overall fat, while providing a generous source of folic acid. So how much is too much? One serving of about three ounces equates approximately to the size of a deck of playing cards.
While turkey is a staple of holiday dinners, so are cranberries. The antioxidant-packed red berries are a blessing to the body, helping to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. Best of all, cranberries are just the treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. But beware of overdoing it on the sugar. A recommended serving size is 1/4 cup of the canned version (about the size of a golf ball).
Pumpkin also stands its ground on the dinner table as a fiber-rich favorite full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. Though your familyís recipe for pumpkin pie may include a large helping of the hearty gourd, itís likely high in calories and heavy on sugar. To boost your pieís nutritional value, substitute evaporated skim milk to cut down on calories and fat while adding more spices and using less sugar. Keep in mind that 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin is one serving.
While itís tough to give up that fresh, warm dinner roll that complements your dinner plate so nicely, an easy way to eat more nutritiously is to opt for one small whole-wheat roll. The reason? There is typically more fiber in 100 percent whole wheat breads, which helps to lower the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
As another source of fiber (both insoluble and soluble), fresh and frozen peas are highly nutritious. While canned peas are not recommended because of their high sodium content, adding a dash of pepper or a sprinkling of nuts atop will spice them right up.
And, last but not least, the benefits of your favorite sweet potatoes include being a rich source of beta-carotene and antioxidants as well as fiber. Though it's easy to sweeten them up with extras such as brown sugar and butter, savor the potatoes natural sweetness by skipping the extras and baking them in the oven with a dash or two of your favorite spice. One-half cup will satisfy a recommended serving.
Anxious to get cooking? Try one of these simply delicious (and nutritious) holiday dishes. Just remember to limit your servings.
Turkey and Sweet Potato Chowder
1 large potato, peeled if desired, and chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 small ears of frozen corn-on-the-cob, thawed, or 1 cup loose-pack frozen whole kernel corn
12 ounces cooked turkey breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2-1/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Combine potato and broth in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 12 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Do not drain. Mash potato with masher until mixture is thickened and almost smooth. If using corn-on-the-cob, cut kernels from one of the ears of corn and then cut second ear of corn crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stir corn, turkey, milk, sweet potato and pepper into potato mixture in saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until sweet potato is tender. Ladle chowder into bowls. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 5 (1-1/3 cup) servings.
Cran Applesauce Bread
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss cranberries with the 1 tablespoon sugar and set aside. In a larger bowl, cream butter and remaining 2/3 cup sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. In separate bowl, combine applesauce and milk. Add flour mixture and applesauce mixture alternately to the creamed mixture. Beat well. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Pour into 1 large or 2 small greased loaf pans. Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.