Thursday, December 15, 2011

Healthy Holiday and Party Eating

Me at a holiday party trying VERY hard to make the right decision
Let’s be honest, it’s harder to make healthy lifestyle decisions at any party, especially during the holiday season.  Parties are swarming with buttery casseroles and pies and the gym is looking darker, colder and creepier than it ever has.  The couch is looking very inviting as is a glass of spiked cider in one had and a piece of pecan pie in the other.  So I thought I would put together my little list of tips to stay healthy at the party and over the holiday season.

Tip #1: Healthy eating does not have to be bland!

Lemon Dill Salmon with a Persian Twist
Spice up your holiday dishes with some fresh herbs and spices.  My personal favorite herbs are (in no particular order): dill, cilantro, thyme, sage, rosemary, basil and oregano.  And spices: saffron, nutmeg, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, curry, and turmeric.  You will be surprised at what adding some fresh herbs and spices to fish, poultry, stews, marinades, sauces or as a garnish will do to your mundane dishes.   

Tip #2: Garlic garlic garlic!

Crush it, slice it, whole clove it.  Sauté it, roast it, puree it.  However you like it! 

My personal favorites:
  •     Take the entire head of garlic, chop off the top, drizzle with olive oil, cover with aluminum foil and roast at 400 in the oven for about an hour.  When done the cloves are like butter and can be spread on your favorite crackers or bread.  Mmmmmm.
  •       Sauté a few crushed cloves in olive oil, add some fresh shrimp or fish like tilapia.  Next add some lemon juice, fresh herbs, flip and sauté some more and voila!  Amazing.
  •       Toss your favorite veggie(s) (asparagus, potatoes, carrots, onions, zucchini, etc) in olive oil and nice large garlic pieces, (+/-) fresh herb of your choice, salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or so and broil for another 5 minutes.  Crispy and caramelized...delicious!   

Tip #3: Beware of empty calories! the form of alcohol.  It’s amazing how many extra calories you can consume at a holiday bash from spiked punch, wine and beer alone.  My tips: use smaller glasses when filling up; remarkable what an optical illusion will do (That goes for plates too when eating food; use smaller ones.  Also, make a point to have a non-alcoholic beverage in between.  I recommend water.  It will keep you full, decreasing the amount of alcohol you consume by default…and hydrated so that you avoid that horrible morning-after headache.

Tip #4: Offer to bring a healthy dish to the gathering

Freaking out that the only options at your best friend's bash will be buttered turkey, served with a side of buttered veggies followed by sugary sweet potato pie?  Why not offer to bring a healthy dish to the get together.  Perhaps some homemade hummus with fresh veggies or pita chips for dipping or a cucumber yogurt dip accompanied by some whole-wheat pita wedges or even a hearty salad.  You will feel better prior to the party and during if you know there is a healthy dish option.  You may get made fun of for being the health freak of the group, but in the long run, it’s worth it.

Tip #5: Have a light, healthy snack before you hit the party

Don’t arrive at the party starving to death.  That will just lead to mindless crazy binge eating.  You’ll end up shoving a stuffed mushroom, a few blocks of cheese, a Spanakopita, and some shrimp down your throat in just under 5 minutes not allowing your brain to process and regulate information relating to hunger.  The result: you just consumed way too many calories for no reason and now feel like a big blob and you haven’t even had dessert yet.  To avoid this, have a light, healthy snack before you leave home.  Maybe a low-fat yogurt parfait or a PB and apple sandwich.  You wont arrive as the ravenous guest, embarrassing your spouse/date or fending off potential ones.  No one wants to be with that guy.  And eat slowly.  This is not a contest.  

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