MM asked our resident health guru Evelyn Fuertes of From Sprouts to Supper in town to help us figure out a healthier way of celebrating the holidays. Here is her expert advice:
The holidays can be stressful for many people for different reasons. Some people have events, including work functions to attend and the pressures to entertain. However, many have lost loved ones or will be alone for the holidays and many more will not be able to celebrate the holidays due to the loss of a home or a job. I would like to encourage everyone to keep them all in our hearts during this holiday season, no matter how stressed we think we are.
1. When planning holiday menus, how do you make sure you provide healthy alternatives to the usual sugar-laden concoctions we think of as comfort food!
Health alternatives can be quite good, think of fresh fruit, dark chocolate and nuts. All heart healthy and quite yummy. One treat that I like to make includes sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, dates, raisins and cinnamon pulsed in a food processor and then rolled into a ball. I like to roll them in a dusting of cacao (chocolate) powder or a nice spiced tea that has been ground fine. If you are looking for low fat you can't go wrong with frozen fruit. I love to make "ice cream" with a frozen banana, frozen blueberries and strawberries.
2. What are the healthiest foods that you can make part of a hearty holiday buffet?
Oh boy there are so many! Side dishes can really make the meal zing. I like a quinoa or millet pilaf. One of my new favorites, roasted kabocha squash adds color and tastes great. Baked sweet potatoes or any other roasted root vegetables are always delicious. Steamed vegetables like broccoli or kale can add some beautiful color as long as they are not overcooked. Adzuki beans and navy beans are packed with nutrients and taste great as spreads. I also would recommend that if you are trying to make the meals healthy reduce the fat and salt that you cook with and add it after the meal is ready, or better yet, let each person add what they want. I like to make a tahini dressing and let people drizzle that over their meal to add a bit of flavor and fat.