Nutrition Tips for the Holidays

 If you find yourself going to a get-together where you aren’t sure what foods will be served, call the host well before the event and offer to bring a dish. You can be sure that many will be delighted to see a dish that is both nutritious and delicious.  Served with fellowship and cheer, you can’t go wrong.

 The aphorism “know thyself” is particularly relevant at holiday times.  It’s so easy to overeat the fun foods on festive occasions.  By eating good low-calorie density foods beforehand you can suppress the strong cravings that are inevitable on an empty stomach.

 Drinking water can also help decrease the hunger you feel before meals.  Just be aware that water doesn’t linger long in the stomach.  For this strategy to work, it’s necessary to drink the water as close to the meal as possible.  A bowl of low-calorie soup as the first course is a similar strategy.  Of course, when the snacks include fresh plant-based whole foods like celery, carrots, berries or apples eat these first.

 Now, enjoy the fun foods and if you like, try one of mine from the recipes that follow.

     Jalapeno and Salsa Corn Muffins

 This savory muffin recipe comes from “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook.”  by Ann and Jane Esselstyn.

 1 cup diced onion
 1 jalapeno, seeded, and chopped
 2 cups kale stems removed and leaves chopped
into bite-sized pieces
 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
 1 cup cornmeal
 1 cup white whole wheat flour or oat flour
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 cup unsweetened oat milk
 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
 1 cup salsa

 Instructions:  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  In a frying pan, cook the onion, jalapeno, kale, and corn over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are cooked through. Add a teaspoon or two of water if the pan gets dry. Set aside.

 In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, and baking soda. Add the oat milk, applesauce, and maple syrup, and stir to combine. Add the cooked veggies and the salsa, and stir the batter until well mixed.

 Divide the batter evenly among the wells of a standard muffin tin. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes.  Eat while they are hot!


Apple Pecan Dessert

 This dessert serves four, requires no cooking, and is complemented by a cup of hot tea.

 Ingredients: 2 Cups Pecans, 1/2 Cup Pitted Medjool Dates, 2 Cups Small Chopped  Apples, 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Seeds

 First, put 1 cup of pecans in a food processor and pulse until butter is made.

 Next make the crust by putting 1 cup of pecans in a clean food processor and pulsing until the pecans become a meal. Then, add dates and process again until the blend pecan meal and dates sticks together.

 Using your fingers line dessert cups at the bottom and halfway up the sides with the crust. Fill the cup with the finely chopped hard apples like Granny Smiths, Pink Ladies or Galas.  Next drizzle apples with warmed pecan butter. Finally, garnish with your favorite decorative sprinkle.  Pomegranate seeds can make an especially nutritious and attractive sprinkle.

By Nancy Neighbors, MD

... Dr. Neighbors provides a blend of traditional family medicine and evidence-based lifestyle medicine in Huntsville, Alabama. When indicated, lifestyle change is recommended as the first line of therapy.

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