Healthy for the Holidays by Jodi Cornelio

By Jodi Cornelio

We have all heard that the average weight gain throughout the holiday season is 8 pounds followed by guilt and depression to start the New Year. I got an idea: Why don’t we all make it a goal to maintain our weight around the holiday season, still enjoy the food and festivities and be happy throughout the New Year?

Here is how: Eat, drink and be merry. You can still eat your favorite foods and have a beverage this season; the secret is one beverage and push your plate away when you are full. Strive to have leftovers or a doggy bag. Tell yourself you can have more later, so it forces you to step away from the table.

Now, about the beverage? Statistics have proven that people who have one drink a day are actually less likely to gain weight over the holidays than those who completely abstain. Keep in mind that if you choose to indulge in alcohol more than that this season the calories can really add up and your judgement on what you eat will be impacted.

Not only that, but due to the fact that alcohol is a diuretic that flushes out nutrients, the following day can turn into a binge of food cravings as your body strives to replace those nutrients. So to avoid overdoing it, limit yourself to one drink a day or no more than five-to-seven drinks per week, says Brooke Alpert RDN, the founder of the nutrition practice B Nutritious in New York City. Always choose lower calorie drinks like wine, lite beer or vodka and club soda.

Plan your healthy leftover menus in advance, so it forces you to save some leftovers. Here is a great healthy recipe for your holiday leftovers. Save the following leftovers: carrots, squash, sweet potato, radishes, turnips and beets (you will need to cube these into quarter-inch pieces). The other ingredients are:
¼ cup olive oil
6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup polenta
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups of kale
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to season
1 small glove garlic, crushed

Bake all vegetables except the kale with olive oil on cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly tender. Bring all your broth and polenta to a boil, then simmer and add the Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to season. In a side bowl blend the kale, garlic, pine nuts and lemon juice until it makes a puree-type pesto sauce. Spoon the polenta mix into a bowl, add a little kale pesto for color to the mix, top with vegetables and drizzle more of the kale pesto on top.

It’s not only healthy; it’s beautiful with color for the holidays. Live long, live well.