As anyone with health related dietary issues knows, the holidays can be deadly. As a firm believer in “all things in moderation” I do believe that you should sometimes enjoy a little taste of the sweet things in life. During the holiday season there are so many temptations that can make life very stressful for someone who must, because of serious health issues, be cautious about what they consume. Whether it is allergies, diabetes or a fat-restricted diet, it is very difficult to know what you are eating when it has been prepared by someone else, not to mention the temptation of all the goodies constantly being offered this time of the year. I am one of the lucky ones, my issues are solely that what I eat ends up on my rump and when I diet, my cleavage evaporates. A pain in the body image, yes. Fatal? No! Last December 22nd, my husband discovered that he had coronary artery disease that required a quintuple bypass. We had always eaten in a healthy fashion, tried to exercise on a regular basis and thought we were doing things right. Wrong! More changes were on the horizon.
That aside, this year we are determined to survive the holidays and enjoy them! I wish I could tell you that there is a magic bullet that will render you impervious to succulent sweets and decadent dinners. Alas, there isn’t and even during the holidays you have to be vigilant about what you eat if your health is a concern. One of the tricks we use is that if we are going out for cocktails, we make sure we have a light, health conscious meal beforehand as this makes it easier to resist overdoing the snacking. We can have a treat or two and be satisfied. Another trick is to alternate cocktails with ice water or sparkling water. Or, make that glass of wine a spritzer. You will be cutting your calorie and sugar intake by half, ditto the fat if eggnog is your poison. Enjoy a no-guilt turkey dinner by making careful choices of offerings, go lightly with sauces and gravies. Finally, don’t skip the exercise, even a brisk ten minute walk around the block is better than nothing, especially if your issues are heart disease or diabetes.
Moderation is the key to avoiding a holiday hangover, whether it be from alcohol, fats, carbs or sugar.
******* DINNER SALAD FOR TWO *******
One large handful fresh baby spinach
One large handful romaine lettuce
Six ounces diced or shredded chicken or lean pork (either hot or cold so great for using up leftovers)
Four inch piece of cucumber, sliced
Handful of fresh mushrooms, sliced (you can lightly sauté in olive oil or leave fresh)
One fresh spaghetti nest, cooked in boiling water for three minutes and chopped into bite-sized pieces. (I usually buy Compliments brand or you can use 1 cup of any type of pasta you prefer)
¼ cup of dried cranberries (sweetened or not)
2 tbsp toasted, hulled sunflower seeds
Toss together in a large bowl, drizzle with not more than two teaspoons of walnut oil (rich in Omega 6) and grate a one inch square cube of parmesan reggiano over the salad and season with freshly grated salt and pepper. Toss well and enjoy a meal that will be satisfying and healthy!
Whether you suffer from high cholesterol, diabetes or high triglycerides, this salad is a winner and I never find it filling out my new size 8 jeans.
Wendy Scott is an instructor at the Rothesay Superstore Cooking School. She and her husband, Mark, own an upholstery business, Road & River Upholstery, in the Valley. A lifelong cook from a long line of great cooks, Wendy has recently turned her focus to healthy cooking following her husband’s recent health issues. By doing research and developing recipes specifically for his needs, Wendy has seen Mark’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels have changed dramatically.