Lose the guilt, not the taste – Holiday recipe modifications

healthy holiday recipe modifications

Welcome to the season of festive gatherings and indulgent eating. Nutritionally speaking, this is a tough time of year. We don’t want to give up delicious holiday dishes; however, we would rather not wreck our health through weeks of unhealthy eating. Fortunately, with a few modifications and a little moderation, we don’t have to do either.

There are three magic ingredients most cooks rely on to make their dishes taste better: salt, fat and sugar. Unfortunately, these ingredients can damage our health when used too heavily and consumed too often. Here’s the good news: you can still get that delicious taste by using salt, fat and sugar in moderation. Let’s look at ways we can reduce them.

Cutting the salt

  • Before adding salt to a recipe, think about why – or even if – it is necessary. Maybe you don’t really need it, or perhaps you could use half the amount called for.
  • Instead of salt, try herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your food. Other seasonings to try: pepper, citrus juice or zest, onion or garlic, vinegar, salt-free seasoning blends, nutritional yeast. Beware of spice mixes that may contain salt.
  • If using canned tomatoes, beans or broth in a recipe, choose a no-salt-added or low-sodium version of the product.
  • When baking, be careful about how much salt you remove from the recipe, as that can change the texture of the final product.

Lightening up with less saturated (bad) fat

  • In cooking, replace butter and coconut oil with olive oil or canola oil. This won’t work in baking, however, because you would get a completely different texture.
  • Pie crusts are full of butter or other highly saturated fat. Try a crust-less version of your dessert instead.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat: chicken and turkey breasts, beef “loin” or “round,” pork tenderloin. Consider serving fish in place of meat.
  • Try replacing some full-fat dairy products with low-fat or fat-free versions. For example, do you need both butter and cream in mashed potatoes, or could you do with butter and low-fat milk?
  • Roast, grill, broil or stew food instead of frying.

Scaling back on sugar

  • Bring out the natural sweetness in food by adding spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, vanilla or almond extract.
  • When baking, try reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe by a quarter, or 25 percent. (For example, use 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup of sugar.) You may be able to reduce it further, but this may affect the browning and texture of your baked goods.

A few more things to remember

  • Choose good quality ingredients, so that their natural flavors make the dish delish!
  • To boost the nutritional value of your meals, add more fruits and vegetables. Try adding dried fruits or extra vegetables to traditional recipes such as stuffing, quick breads and salads. An simple, tasty addition to any meal is to cut up a variety of your favorite veggies into similar-sized pieces (about 1 ½-inch), coat them in olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite herbs. Spread them on a sheet pan and roast at 400 degrees until golden on the outside and slightly tender on the inside.
  • Indulge mindfully. If you have a generally healthy diet most of the time, you can allow yourself room for some holiday indulgences. The key is to enjoy them, with all your senses and without a shred of regret.

We wish you happy, healthy and tasty holidays!

Laurie Ledford is a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.

 

 

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Looking to maintain not gain this holiday season? Tips from one of our wellness experts

 

Thanksgiving wellness tipsAmy Ramsey, manager of TMC Employee Wellness & Engagement, mom, marathon runner, hiker and all around fitness guru shared these tips for all those looking to enjoy this holiday season while maintaining and not gaining.

Avoid large plates

Serve reasonably sized servings on smaller, appetizer plates instead of a massive dinner plate. If you’re hosting, do everyone a favor and keep your larger plates hidden away.

We eat with our eyes before we even take the first bite of food. I don’t know about you, but two tablespoons of hummus loos a lot less depressing if served on a smaller plate filled with veggies and seedy crackers than alone on a large plate.

We are all tempted to fill the plate when serving our selves, so think smaller plates for portion control.

Slow down

Clearing your plate is not a race, so there’s no need to preload your fork for each bite. Taking breaks will extend the time it takes to eat your meal and possibly reduce the amount of food you eat.

Did you know that it takes between 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full? Give your stomach a chance to catch up with your brain!

Turn off the distractions

Televisions, phones and laptops should not be near your dining table. When electronics and other distractions have our attention, the amount of food that we’re putting into our mouths does not–it’s the perfect environment for mindless eating.

Thanksgiving can be a great day to have some football on in the background, so you may let this one slide for the special day, but losing the distractions is a good, all-around general tip for everyday meal times.

Freshen your mouth

When you’re done eating, keep your mouth busy with a piece of gum, or head to the bathroom to brush. Keeping a clean mouth may be motivating enough to keep us from mindlessly grazing on food.

I couple this tactic with shutting off the kitchen lights after dinner is done, and I’m definitely less likely to go looking around after the kitchen is “closed.”

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you can find time to relax and enjoy whatever it is that makes YOU happy!

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TMC Labyrinth: a path for showing gratitude, thanks

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.   — John Milton

I can feel that it’s that time of year again – the time of year when you look forward to the warm rays of sun, co-workers start bringing in baked goodies, and turkeys start to arrive! A spirit of giving, while always present, becomes more tangible.

This season can also be a time when nerves get frayed, expectations and obligations pile up, and souls become weary. We may be able to help out a bit.

During this season of gratitude, I invite you to a special place of respite you may or may not know about. The TMC Hospice Labyrinth & Centering Garden can be found along Wyatt Drive, adjacent to the east end of Peppi’s House on the Tucson Medical Center campus.

It is a simple walking path. Labyrinths have been walked for thousands of years and often are used as a metaphor for a journey. You would be amazed what a quiet, reflective walk through the labyrinth will do to clear your mind and calm your nerves.

This week, as we approach Thanksgiving, consider taking a walk through the labyrinth and focusing on gratitude. Reflect on the people, places and things that renew you and give thanks for them. Give yourself this gift of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rev. Amy Barron-Gafford
Chaplain, TMC Hospice

For more information on walking our Labyrinth, click the TMC Labyrinth Walking Guide.

Saguaro Surgical makes house call to St. Luke’s Home

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Tucson Medical Center salutes the more than 15 staff members, family and friends from Saguaro Surgical who converged on St. Luke’s Home this past Sunday. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the group visited with the residents, played a little bingo and treated everyone to lunch from Tucson favorite Lucky Wishbone.

This was the practice’s first time visiting the home, which provides assisted living for those with limited financial means. But it won’t be the last, according to practice manager Buzz Schudy, “St. Luke’s is a great home for our elderly and a wonderful community asset. It was a rewarding experience and we encourage others to go out and make a difference in our community. You’ll be glad you did.”


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461