Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or just the family and friends in your life, we all know it’s the season of inevitable feasting and parties. Sharing meals together is how we spend time with people, and the meal is often one of the focal reasons for the gathering. We have potluck dinners to see friends or coworkers and exchange Secret Santa gifts, company buffet dinners, and family meals where relatives make their signature dishes. December is usually an especially social month for many of us, and there is a way we can enjoy all the festive meals without compromising our health. For Type 2 diabetics or people managing high cholesterol, taking Actos and Tricor doesn’t mean we can pour on the gravy. Our medications are more effective when we are also actively choosing a diet and lifestyle that benefits our bodies. We can enjoy food and still be intentional about taking care of our conditions, bodies and making as many nutritious and healthy choices as possible.
Here are some healthy foods you can incorporate into your holiday meals.
In the winter, our bodies crave thicker, heavier foods, even in our snacks. Hummus gives us that texture while being a light spread. Instead of chips, you can snack on hummus while chatting and waiting for people to arrive and dinner to begin. Hummus is a great snack for holiday movies, and you can have it with fresh veggies or whole-grain pita. It can be incorporated into breakfast and lunches as a spread or in sandwiches, or even mixed into salads. If you’d like more creative control over the ingredients best for you, you can find and modify online recipes for hummus and make your own with a blender.
This superfood is easy to incorporate into our holiday diets – and even our drinks! Chia seeds are low-maintenance to prepare. Simply soak overnight in water until you see that the seed has expanded and has a clear jelly-like substance around the small inner seed. Once they have been soaked, you can make chia pudding to have with your breakfast, or create a dessert version. You can also put chia seeds in your water so that you can be getting a great source of protein to keep you feeling full as you are getting hydrated. Protein also helps keep your blood sugar balanced. Since the flavor is more neutral, there’s endless ways to add chia seeds to our food and drinks. Chia seeds are energy-fueling protein and are high in Omega-3 fatty acids (17 times more than in salmon). They also include calcium, fiber, Vitamins B, C, and E.
Quinoa is another small food item with big benefits. Whether you are trying to cut back on your gluten-intake or not, quinoa is a wonderful base ingredient for hearty and healthy dishes. Quinoa can be used in salads, wraps, porridge/oatmeal, savory mushroom risotto, or even sushi (instead of rice). This grain gives us the satisfaction of eating carbs such as rice, but does not contain gluten. It is a source of essential amino acids and protein, and is a helpful for those trying to lose weight.
Our bodies and appetites are seasonal, just like the weather. In the summer, our palette prefers light and citrusy elements while our winter palette wants rich and savory tastes. Sweet potatoes are a good staple to include in your winter meals and feel like you are eating something fulfilling while getting fiber, protein, Vitamin C and beta carotene. You can make sweet potato soup, or steam or boil them as sides to a meat, or bake them in thin slices or strips to make chips or fries.
One of the hardest things to resist is dessert, and somehow we can always find room for whatever sweet-smelling thing treat comes out of the oven at the end of the meal. Instead of a sugary store-bought cake, try baking something with healthy elements such as almond butter. It can replace peanut butter to make almond butter dark chocolate chip cookies, or replace butter in fudge bars or cakes or used to bring richness to Rice Krispy squares using brown rice.
Hopefully this article provided you with some creative ideas on how to enjoy delicious and guilt-free holiday snacks and meals. Happy holidays, and remember to eat for health and wellness!