Holiday munching can last for 3 months. It begins with the endless candy of Halloween, extends to the feasting at Thanksgiving, continues with the goodies of Christmas and Chanukah, winding down to the clicking of the Champaign glasses on New Years Eve. For the typical American, New Years begins with a weight gain of 1 to 10 pounds thanks to the holidays. Planning and preparation can help you make it through the food fest no worse for the ware. It may not be a good time for weight loss but maintaining your body weight is a realistic goal.
Healthy Cooking Tips For The Holidays
- Add some pizzazz to your cold drink by using festive ice cubs filled with berries, cherries, lemon and orange slices, or a sprig of mint in ice trays. Fill with water, fruit juice or sparkling water and freeze as usual.
- Use nonstick bake ware. Aluminized steel ceramic-reinforced pans work well. Non-stick sprays like Pure Mazola have no alcohol, no silicone and are fat free.
- For some foods, you may be able to skip the cooking fat altogether and use a nonfat liquid instead, such as low sodium chicken broth or tomato juice to prepare vegetables, or low sodium Worcestershire sauce to sauté mushrooms.
- Trim all visible fat from meat before you cook it.
- Cook soups and stews far enough in advance to allow them to cool so you can skim off the fat or use a fat separator.
- Choose the leanest cuts of red meat: For beef, these are sirloin tip, eye of round, round steak, chuck with round bone, flank steak, tenderloin, lean stew meat, and extra lean ground beef. For pork, try pork loin or tenderloin, center cut ham and Canadian bacon. For lamb, the leanest cuts are the leg, lamb steak, and sirloin chop. All cuts of veal are lean except the breast.
- Small chickens (broilers and fryers) are leaner than roasters, which in turn are leaner than hens and capons. Turkey and Cornish game hens are also lean. Remove hunks of fat inside before you cook. For dishes made with chicken parts, skin the chicken before you cook it.
- There is a significant difference between skim vs. whole milk. Skim milk is 86 calories per cup compared to 160 calories for whole and 102 calories for 1% milk. If a recipe calls for evaporated milk use skim. If the recipe calls for cream, use whole milk.
- Buttermilk is actually low in fat. It is made with skim or 1% milk. It can be used in place of whole milk to make baked goods (just add ½ t of baking soda to the dry in gradients for ever cup of buttermilk).
- In most recipes and dishes calling for sour cream, you can substitute plain yogurt and save 349 calories per cup. This works well in salad dressings dips, and toppings for food like bake potatoes or chili.
- To keep yogurt from separating in foods that are cooked or stirred vigorously, first mix 1 T of cornstarch with 1 T of yogurt, and then add it to your recipe.
- Use farmer cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt cheese, part-skim ricotta, or reduced fat laughing cow cheese in place of cream cheese as a spread or recipe ingredient.
- Other cheeses that are lower in fat include feta, part-skim and regular mozzarella, Neufchatel, and Camembert. Be sure and check the food label of the “imitation” cheeses, because they may still be high in calories.
- For dressing up cooked vegetables, try a few drops of vegetable oil such as sesame oil, or a little grated cheese instead of a chunk of butter or regular margarine. Or skip the fat and season with herbs and spices.
- Create your own delicious salad dressing and decrease the oil. Unique vinegars (like pear and berry) are very popular and combined with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice
- Vegetable oils have the same calories as animal fats, but your arteries will thank you for using the vegetable fats. Sprays like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and vegetable sprays will help you keep down the calories.
- Treat nuts, seeds, peanut butter, and avocados are healthy but caloric, so include them but pay attention to portion size. A handful of nuts is plenty. Enjoy wonderful Pistachios in the shells. They are a skinnier nut.
- Make pies with a single crust and save 75 to 100 calories per serving. Crumb crust (graham cracker, cereal, gingersnaps) can be lower in fat than traditional crust. For further calorie reduction, skip eating the crust altogether.
Watch out for holiday drinks! Hear Carol’s tips with news anchor Katherine Whaley: