Healthy Re-Dos of Favorite Holiday Foods

It was all the way back in November of 2007 that I wrote a post on healthy holiday eating.  In that post I said I would give you some suggestions for making some of your holiday favorites healthier.  It has been over a year, so I think now would be a good time!

Sweet Potatoes

It has been many, many years since I have eaten the classic holiday sweet potatoes swimming in butter and covered with marshmallows. I don’t really miss it! Instead of butter and marshmallows, try mixing garnet yams with unsweetened canned pineapple chunks. It is really good and surprisingly sweet!

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie can be good for you! The biggest problem is all the sugar. Try cutting back just a bit. Use just 3/4 cup of sugar for every cup of sugar called for in the recipe. Or do like I do and substitute Splenda for the sugar. Then use non-fat evaporated milk, instead of the full fat version, and don’t eat the crust.

Egg Nog

If you must buy the stuff in the store, at least mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with non-fat milk. Or better yet try this. Add 2 teaspoons sugar free vanilla syrup, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg to 1 cup of non fat or low fat milk. Yum, one of my favorites. Drink it hot or cold.

Green Bean Casserole

Skip the mushroom soup altogether, and instead mix in some slivered almonds, and just enough fried onions to get the flavor.

Mashed Potatoes

You can use a lot less butter in your mashed potatoes if you start with Yukon Gold Potatoes. They have a naturally buttery flavor. Just mash with some non-fat milk and you can have mashed potatoes that are actually good for you!

Do you have any healthy re-dos for holiday favorites? If so, please leave a comment here!

Getting Back to Diet Basics

My weight has been creeping up on me again. A few years ago I managed to lose 30 pounds. I did it a simple way, by eliminating all sugar and refined carbohydrates from my diet, and by eating foods that were as close as possible to their natural state. I ate lots of vegetables, some fruit, and high quality protein. I felt and looked great!? But then I started having little slips in my diet. First it was pizza, and then honey, and slowly and surely I got back to the place where I am now. Eating too much sugar and way too many refined foods.

So of course, I start looking for the quick fix. I have read all sorts of top 10 lists on how to lose weight. I’ve actually been watching the commercials for those “fat burner” pills. I even briefly considered taking that new, FDA approved weight loss pill. Anything except the one thing that will work. Eating right and getting some exercise.

Why is that? Even though I know it doesn’t exist I am looking for the great, miracle weight loss secret. I am hoping to find the magic pill that will let me watch TV all day and eat junk food and still be slim and healthy. Why am I looking for a magic pill when I know what works? The secret to weight loss is simple. Eat less, exercise more! Eat healthy foods and it will be easier to eat less.

Today I have recommitted to my healthy eating plan. No more sugar, no more toast with honey. Plenty of quality protein, fresh vegies and fruit. I will drink lots of water and take a walk every day. I think I’ll start a 30 day healthy eating and exercise  challenge to go along with my 30 day blogging challenge. It will give me something to write about!

Say Good Bye to Packaged Cereal

It has been too long since I last blogged about food. Anyone can tell just by looking at me that I love good food! So I thought today would be a good day to talk about how your choices in food can be good for your wallet, good for your health, and good for the environment. And if we are talking about good food and the environment in the same blog post we have to talk about granola.

First, lets make some granola. Then I’ll tell you why it is worth the time to make up a batch every week.

There are lots of recipes on the internet. Here is one that I have put together to get you started. You’ll soon be making your own variations! All measurements are approximate. Feel free to experiment, you really can’t go wrong.

In a medium size saucepan mix together.

  • 1/2 Cup Oil (I like to use strong flavored oils. Right now I’m using sesame oil because I got a gallon of it real cheap, but sometimes I will use coconut oil or a blend of the two)
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Real Maple Syrup (More or less depending on how sweet you want your granola. You can also use white or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Allow to cool a bit then mix in:

  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  • other spices to taste, I like to add about a tablespoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, maybe a dash of cloves

While that is cooking, in a large bowl, mix together:

  • 8 Cups Old Fashioned Oats (I buy organic oats in bulk at the co-op for about .30/lb)
  • 1 Cup Wheat Germ
  • 1 Cup unsweetened coconut flakes (you can find unsweetened coconut at co-ops and natural food stores)
  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Flax Seeds (or ground flax seeds)
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

Pour liquid into dry mixture and mix well until everything is damp but not wet. Add a little more water if needed.

Spread mixture evenly on shallow baking sheets. Do not fill the baking sheets because you will need room to stir.

Bake in a slow oven (about 250 degrees).

I’m sorry I can’t tell you how long. Sometimes I cook the granola for 30 minutes and sometimes it takes over an hour. You just have to watch it. Check your granola about every 15 minutes, stirring each time. It is done when the oats have a nice brown color and everything is very dry.

Allow the granola to cool thoroughly. Then mix in:

  • 1 Cup Raisins or other dried fruit.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy. This makes enough cereal for my family of  granola lovers (2 adults and 1 growing teenager) for about a week.

Since I’ve been making granola I have pretty much quit buying packaged breakfast cereal.  It now seems to be a big waste of money.  Just yesterday I was looking at the cereal aisle and found that for the same price as a batch of healthy granola (around $4) I could get a brightly colored box with 12 oz. of  refined corn and high fructose corn syrup, with a few artificial colors and preservatives thrown in for good measure.  No Thanks!

I also don’t have all those brightly colored boxed waiting to go to the recycling center. Sure we can recycle the cardboard, but it is better for the environment if it is never produced in the first place.

My family loves the granola I make and love the money I save.  Plus, by making my own granola I can sneak in the flax seed and other healthy ingrediants my husband wouldn’t eat otherwise! Let me know how your granola creations go!

Healthy Holiday Eating

It may be called the Christmas Season, or the Holiday Season, but I think it really is the Eating Season! More than any other time of the year, food seems to be a focus for the next 6 weeks.  Here are some ideas that have helped me to keep eating healthy (mostly!) during the holiday season.

Continue reading “Healthy Holiday Eating”