As mentioned, this time of year presents unique challenges – especially those of the waistline variety. With that in mind, Nutritionist, Paula Scormedahas put together some ideas on how you can maintain the physique without giving up on the good stuff. Read on for some great foodie ideas for the holiday! The holiday season is upon us again, and if you’re anything like me, you’re anxiously awaiting the first or second week of December when it becomes acceptable to start eating chocolate, candy, and various other Christmas confections on a daily basis! You also may be trying to figure out how piles of buttery mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and crispy turkey skin are going to affect your plans of fitting into your favorite party dress on New Years Eve. Yes, it’s my favorite time of year for eating. The house is warm and cozy, the fireplace is roaring, and the whole family is gearing up to watch “A Christmas Story.” A mug of rum & eggnog accompanied by some homemade shortbread is the perfect thing to finish this picture. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without reckless indulgence! Don’t get me wrong, I love most of those things, and I’m obsessed with holiday traditions. That warm & fuzzy feeling and being reminded of childhood memories are paramount this time of year. But if you’re concerned that you won’t be able to partake in these treats, don’t be. There is good news. Some of the richest, tastiest, sweetest, most satisfying and comforting treats are also extremely nutrient-dense and calorically sound. This means you can have it all! Let’s break it down… Breakfast on Christmas Eve: Most of us turn to croissants, scones, butter, scrambled eggs, bacon Instead try 100% rye bread, smoked salmon, soft poached free-range eggs, 2% greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds, & mandarin oranges. Christmas Eve Dinner Make a big pot of roasted chestnut soup (this is pretty much a big hug in a bowl). Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and finished with a touch of cream, it’s is ultra satisfying. Chestnuts are loaded with fiber, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and folate.
Serve with a wintery salad with baby arugula, toasted pecans, fresh sliced pears, and balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette. RECIPE: Chestnut & Butternut squash soup 2 ½C chestnuts, roasted & peeled (available prepped in some stores) ½ butternut squash 2T extra virgin olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 carrot, chopped 1 celery stalk, chopped 1 bay leaf 4C veggie or chicken/turkey stock\ 2T cream or half & half Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cayenne pepper sea salt to taste *Sauté onions, carrot and celery in olive oil until soft. Add chestnuts, bay leaf and cubed squash, cover with stock. Simmer until squash is soft. Puree until smooth, add seasonings and cream. Christmas Dinner: We tend to stick to tradition with mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, cheesy veggie casseroles, overcooked Brussels sprouts (which are often more for decoration than delectability), and a big huge turkey with enough meat to send everyone home with leftovers AND make a week worth of sandwiches. Try instead: Root veggie mash- cut equal parts sweet potatoes (or yams), turnips, parsnips, and potatoes. Put them all in a pot, and simmer with veggie or turkey stock. Drain, reserving the starchy stock, and mash well. Add back enough stock to make the mixture creamy and luxurious. Finish with a touch of butter and season with sea salt. Slow-roasted Brussels sprouts– Toss halved sprouts in extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread onto a tray, and roast in a 325 oven for 30-45mins. Platter those babies up with an added drizzle of olive oil, a splash of balsamic or wine vinegar, and a handful of chopped walnuts. Cranberry apple compote– Most cranberry sauce is either dumped out of a can, or homemade with equal parts cranberries and white sugar. Instead, try cooking cranberries and diced apples in apple cider. When the cranberries burst and break down, cool slightly and taste. It will be slightly sweet but probably quite sour as well. Finish with the zest and juice of an orange, and JUST enough raw honey or maple syrup to sweeten to perfection. You might be surprised at how little it takes. The gravy, stuffing, and TURKEY- The gravy should be the consistency of olive oil, not wallpaper paste. Pour the turkey drippings into a measuring cup and skim off the fat. Deglaze the roasting pan with lots of white wine and sprinkle in a bit of your flour of choice (wheat, corn, rice). Add back in the fat-skimmed drippings, and season to taste. My favorite stuffing is loaded with mushrooms. I chop them finely in a food processor, and sauté with onions, celery, and garlic. Toss the mixture with whole grain bread cubes (again, your grain of choice) and moisten with veggie or turkey stock, and an egg or two. Bake in a covered dish until internal temperature is 160 degrees. *Note: the turkey should be no more than 15lbs. When the turkey is too big, the meat becomes tough and leathery. Think quality not quantity. The money you save on a smaller bird means you can buy local, free-range & organic. With all the amazing veggie dishes on offer, you will not go hungry! To make this meal vegetarian, skip the turkey & instead roast quarters of acorn squash & stuff with stuffing! Use the leftover chestnut soup as a sauce. Dessert:Try poaching pairs in spiced red wine until tender, then serve with vanilla-scented, lightly sweetened Greek yogurt Holiday snack ideas Spiced popcorn- Make air-popped or stovetop popcorn as usual. Melt a small amount of butter or coconut oil with a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Drizzle the spicy butter over the popcorn, and sprinkle with sea salt. A little goes a long way, so go easy on the butter! TIP: Fill the house with bowls of mandarin oranges & unsalted mixed nuts. Filling up on these snacks will make your visits to the box of chocolates less frequent. There are many more ways to celebrate the holidays in good health! For more ideas, tips, and support with maintaining your good health through the winter months, book your first holistic nutrition consultation at Synergy Health Centre in Victoria BC! Book before December 25th and receive 3 consultations for the price of 1 – You save $185 Dollars!

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