Healthy and delicious can be nutritious

Frances Lograsso
Guest Writer

The holidays are around the corner, and many people are already planning their New Year’s resolution to lose the weight they will gain this season. Think about a different resolution and begin or continue healthy eating habits now. What a person eats or, more importantly, does not eat, is an important part of being healthy. Visit www.heart.org, the American Heart Association website.
Eating healthy during the holidays can be a challenge. Holiday traditions are all about family, festivities, fun, food, and… fat. Fat? Yes. Many family holiday celebrations center on foods that are full of fat; turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, or butter, and do not forget the stuffing; traditional fried-in-oil foods like latkes and doughnuts; lasagna, ham, sausages, and cheesy potatoes; and to finish it all off, pies loaded with whipped cream.
The picture is clear, and those are just a few examples of holiday food staples. So, how does one enjoy the food during holiday celebrations and family dinners and still manage to eat healthy?

Here are a few ideas:
– Substitute the butter in spreads, cooking and baking recipes with olive oil, avocadoes, Greek yogurt, applesauce, almond butter, and pumpkin puree
– Arrange a bowl of fresh fruits
– Drink water before and after the main meal
– Steam fresh vegetables (sweet potatoes are delicious in the skin, and are quick and easy in the microwave) instead of heating canned ones
– Use herbs, spices and vinaigrettes for flavoring instead of gravy and mayonnaise
– Take smaller portions
– Split dessert in half and share
– Leave the table after the meal

And for a few healthier recipes:

Appetizer
Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix
Ingredients:
2 cans (15 ounces each) garbanzos, rinsed, drained and patted dry
2 cups wheat squares cereal
1 cup dried pineapple chunks
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 15 1/2-inch-by-10 1/2-inch baking sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray.
Generously spray a heavy skillet with butter-flavored cooking spray. Add garbanzos to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the beans begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer garbanzos to the prepared baking sheet. Spray the beans lightly with cooking spray. Bake, stirring frequently, until the beans are crisp, about 20 minutes.
Lightly coat a roasting pan with butter-flavored cooking spray. Measure the cereal, pineapple and raisins into the pan. Add roasted garbanzos. Stir to mix evenly.
In a large glass measuring cup combine honey, Worcestershire sauce and spices. Stir to mix evenly. Pour the mixture over the snack mix and toss gently. Spray mixture again with cooking spray. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the mixture from burning.
Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Main entrée
Herb-Rubbed Turkey with Au Jus
Ingredients:
For the rub:
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 whole turkey (about 15 pounds), thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water
For the au jus:
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup defatted pan drippings
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
In a small bowl, combine the sage, thyme and parsley to make the rub. Mix well and set aside.
Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and discard. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cool water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Starting at the neck area, insert fingers or a spoon between the layer of skin and meat to gently loosen the skin. Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of the herb mixture under the skin of each breast. Rub the outside of the turkey with the olive oil. Rub the remaining herb mixture over the outside of the bird.
Loosely tie the legs together. Place into the middle of the oven.
After about 1 1/2 hours, cover the turkey with a tent of foil to prevent overcooking. Check the doneness after the bird has roasted about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The turkey is done when the thigh is pierced deeply and juices run clear (180 to 185 F) or when the breast muscle reaches 170 to 175 F.
Remove the turkey from the oven. Let it stand about 20 minutes to allow juices to settle in the meat. Deglaze the pan by adding 1/2 cup water. Stir to scrape up the browned bits. Pour pan drippings into a gravy separator. Reserve 1 cup of defatted pan drippings for the au jus.
To make the au jus, combine the sage, thyme, parsley, honey and apple juice in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the defatted pan drippings and bring to a low boil, stirring often.
Carve the turkey and drizzle turkey slices with the herbed au jus. Serve immediately.

Vegetable side dish:
Brussels Sprouts with Shallot and Lemon
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into quarters
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions
In a large, nonstick frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft and lightly golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in the 1/8 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In the same frying pan, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté until they begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the Brussels sprouts are tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Return the shallots to the pan. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, and the pepper. Serve immediately.

Dessert
Warm Chocolate Soufflé
Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts (filberts) or almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup 1 percent low-fat milk
4 egg whites
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1 cup raspberries
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly coat six 1-cup individual soufflé dishes or ramekins with cooking spray or coat a 6-cup soufflé dish with the spray.
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and hot water, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the canola oil and stir to combine. Add the flour, ground hazelnuts and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in the brown sugar, honey and salt. Gradually add the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir into the cocoa mixture. Let cool slightly.
In a large, thoroughly cleaned bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the cocoa mixture. Mixing gently, only using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the cocoa mixture to lighten until no white streaks remain.
Gently scoop the cocoa egg white mixture into the prepared dishes (or dish). Bake until the soufflé rises above the rim and is set in the center, 15 to 20 minutes for individual soufflés or 40 to 45 minutes for the large soufflé. Cool the soufflés on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with the confectioners’ sugar. Garnish with raspberries and serve immediately.
Recipes courtesy of mayoclinic.org.

Remember to exercise: take in the beautiful colors of nature during a walk after dinner, or if the weather does not cooperate, join the kids in a dance on the gaming system. Start a new tradition; not only does it set a good example for the family, but it will help ensure being around for more holidays to come.

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