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Make Healthy Happen this Holiday Season

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By St. Louis District Dairy Council
Posted in Blog, and Recipes on November 3rd, 2017

The holidays are here! We love to celebrate, but it can be a challenge to balance party foods with smart food choices. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle this time of year may require some planning, but it is possible. Keep healthy eating and physical activity part of your holiday season with these easy tips. 

 

Before You Go

It’s important to keep healthy eating habits during the holiday months.  Don’t skip meals to save to save calories. Skipping meals may increase hunger and cause overeating. Before you leave home for the party, have a small snack.  Try a cup of plain Greek yogurt drizzled with honey, cheese cubes paired with whole grain crackers, or a glass of milk and a small banana. Dairy foods, including milk, yogurt and cheese provide a good source of high quality protein. The 8 grams of protein in a serving of dairy is a perfect way to take the edge off of hunger and help control appetite.

Bring Something to the Party

Volunteer to bring a healthy dish to the party and guarantee there’s something healthy to eat. Assemble platters of brightly-colored fresh fruits or vegetables and serve with yogurt-based dips. Yogurt provides a powerful package of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and protein.For an easy dip, combine plain yogurt with ranch dressing mix, and serve with raw vegetables. A cheese platter with fruit and nuts is another healthy option that offers protein and fiber.

Recipe Makeover

Review recipes you plan to use for the holidays and make some changes. Often holiday recipes have large amounts of fat and sugar that can be reduced. Try decreasing the sugar by one fourth in baked goods. Greek yogurt is a perfect replacement for fat in baked goods. Substitute ¾ cup of Greek yogurt for one cup of oil. Using yogurt in place of other ingredients adds protein, as well as a tangy flavor.Greek yogurt is versatile when it comes to snacking, cooking and baking.

Enjoy Your Favorites in Balance.

Focus on eating the foods you really love and skip those that you don’t. Pass over the foods that are offered throughout the year and enjoy the special foods that are only on-hand during the holidays. Make sure to practice moderation as you enjoy tasty treats.  One or two cookies or a small slice of pie may be enough to satisfy the taste for sweets. Balance high calorie meals with lower calorie meals over several days. Stay active over the holiday season and aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy holiday season. 

RECIPES

These crisps are excellent for a quick party appetizer or snack.

Parmesan Crisps
Yield: 24 crisps

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese 
  • Red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using 2 tablespoons per crisp form a mound on the baking sheet and flatten slightly with back of spoon. Leave at least an inch between mounds and edges. The baking sheet will hold 8 to 12 crisps depending on how they are spaced. Top each mound of cheese with pepper. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, carefully remove from parchment paper. Continue process until all cheese has been used.

Notes:

  • Crisps are best eaten the day they are made, refrigerate any leftovers 
  • Crisps may also be used to top salads or soups
  • Any hard grating cheese may be used.

Nutrition Facts (2 crisps):  91 calories, 9 g protein, 6 grams fat, 28% calcium

Greek yogurt replaces a portion of fat in this recipe, and saves calories while increasing protein and calcium. 

Yogurt Cranberry Bread   Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries chopped

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in yogurt, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Stir in the orange peel and cranberries, and then stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated, taking care not to over beat the batter. Spread the batter in the prepared loaf pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then remove the bread to a wire rack to cool completely. Sift powdered sugar on top of bread, if desired.

Nutrition Facts (1 slice):  176 calories, 5g protein, 5 grams fat, 10% Calcium