There are so many opportunities to eat big meals and overindulge during the holidays from Thanksgiving dinner to a New Year’s Eve celebration.
If you have special dietary concerns, it can be a season of problems.
Lee Lamb, clinical and cardio-pulmonary rehab dietitian at Wilson Medical Center, talked about some of these pitfalls and good alternatives at last week’s meeting of the Wilson County Diabetes Support Group.
“You want to be prepared,” she said.
Those attending the meeting were greeted with a plate of diabetes-friendly food Lamb had prepared, including a green bean casserole made with frozen beans and bread crumbs and pumpkin pudding made with canned pumpkin and sugar-free Jell-O.
Much of the meeting involved participants sharing ways they had adapted favorite holiday recipes to be healthier and to fit into their diet as well as tips from Lamb.
Here are some of the ideas that came up last week:
• Use Splenda in pumpkin pie instead of sugar. Lamb pointed out it’s also good to make the pie crust-less or put nuts on the bottom instead of a crust.
• A good holiday dessert is trifle made with angel food cake, sugar-free Jell-O pudding and light whipped topping.
• If you’re trying to adjust your diet, ease into the transition. One participant told how she is gradually weaning herself from sugar in her tea by adjusting the ratio of sugar and Splenda. It’s easy to do the same with whole milk and skim milk.
• Be careful what you drink at holiday parties. Calories can really add up with egg nog, hot chocolate and alcohol. You can make your own egg nog with low-fat or skim milk and artificial sweeteners. Lamm served delicious unsweetened, hot herbal tea at the meeting.
• Family members might press you to cook the same traditional recipes at Thanksgiving and Christmas with no modifications. But you don’t want to get off your regimen, even for the holidays. “It’s important to stay focused,” Lamb said.
• One woman in the group asked for ways to make carrot cake healthier. Lamb suggested reducing the amount of sweetener and using Splenda. You can also add more pineapple and carrot, she said, use reduced-fat cream cheese or Greek yogurt cream cheese.
• “Don’t be afraid to cut things in half,” Lamb told them. For the onion dip she served at the meeting, she used half an envelope of onion soup mix stirred into Greek yogurt, not sour cream. And she provided carrot sticks for the dip, not chips.
• Stuffing was a favorite holiday dish for several in the group. Lamb said to make it healthier don’t add the grease from the turkey and use reduced-sodium chicken broth.
• When you’re at a big meal, don’t go back for seconds or thirds. And be careful with your original plate and the serving sizes making it one-half non-starch vegetable, one-quarter carbohydrate and one-quarter protein.
• Put away the food as soon as possible after the meal so you aren’t tempted to keep eating, and give away the leftovers. “Don’t keep that temptation around,” Lamb said.
• Don’t fry your turkey, and when you roast it, remove the skin before eating.
• Take a 15-minute walk after every meal.
• When making chicken salad, try Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and mix in fruit, nuts and seeds.
• Volunteer to take food to a meal or party you are attending. That way, you’ll be sure to have something healthy to eat.
• Don’t be afraid to modify and change recipes.
• Instead of using baking sprays, line your pan with aluminum foil.
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Lee’s Heart Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- 2 16-ounce bags frozen french cut green beans
- 1 10-ounce can Campbell’s 98 percent fat free or Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup
- 3/4 cup skim or 2 percent milk
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped bella/porchini mushrooms
- 1 small sweet onion sliced thinly into rings
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs (whole wheat, if possible)
Mix all ingredients (except sliced onions) together completely in a 9x13 baking dish, then top with thinly sliced onion rings. Bake at 375° degrees for 30 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and top with panko bread crumbs. Continue baking an additional 15 minutes or until panko crumbs are browned.
60 kcals, 1 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 mg chol, 90 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein
Compared to regular green bean casserole:
161 kcals, 9 g fat, 3 g sat fat, 4 mg chol, 529 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 3 g protein
Lee’s Low-Carb Pumpkin Pudding
- 1.5-ounce box sugar-free Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 15-ounce can 100 percent pure pumpkin
- 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups 2 percent milk
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Optional: whip cream, graham crackers, small or large graham cracker shells
Mix sugar-free Jell-O pudding package with milk; stirring until thickened. Add in 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Serve and enjoy. May top with 1 tablespoon whip cream and 1/4 sheet of graham cracker, or place in several small, or one large, graham cracker shells.
57 kcals, 1 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 5 mg chol, 201 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein
Compared to regular vanilla pudding:
105 kcals, 1.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 5 mg chol, 238 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 18 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein
Compared to pumpkin pie:
323 kcals, 13 g fat, 3 g sat fat, 35 mg chol, 318 mg sodium, 46 g carbs, 25 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein