MOUNT VERNON — The average American adult gains 2 pounds between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, so having some healthy holiday food advice is always a good thing — especially when coming from experts in the health field.
Such was the case Wednesday when Renae Warner, a Knox Community Hospital exercise physiologist, presented a brown bag luncheon topic on healthy holiday cooking at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. While about 25 members of the library’s Cooking Club enjoyed their own potluck dishes, they listened to Warner’s slide presentation, created by KCH dietician Natalie Brenneman.
Warner offered 10 tips for healthy holiday eating, which started with having a healthy breakfast such as eggs, milk, yogurt, and lean meat, as well as fiber-rich foods like whole grains, oatmeal and fruit. Making fruit and veggie smoothies is good for fast-paced lifestyles on the go, she said. The key to proper eating, she offered, is planning meals each work day, so more fattening comfort food doesn’t take the place in a pinch for the healthy items.
She also suggested shopping “around the perimeter” of grocery stores, where the healthier food is, and not in the aisles, where the more processed foods are. The second tip offered a way to fill oneself up a bit to avoid over-eating — by starting each meal with a glass of water and broth-based soup with veggies, which is a mere 80 calories. That helps take the edge off hunger.
“I think you all know what to do,” Warner said. “It’s just doing it.”
The third tip from Warner and Brenneman, titled “Recipe makeover,” provided some of the most creative advice, as it involved substitutes for butter. Recommended was substituting applesauce for butter when making desserts; using Greek yogurt when making mashed potatoes; and using chicken broth and no butter when making stuffing. And as far as mashed potatoes go, she recommended a possible alternative, offering: “A lot of people are starting to use mashed cauliflower, instead.”
Losing weight or maintaining it is all about calories and commitment, Warner said. You can lose weight, principally, in two ways, one by eating less and the other by exercising more. The bottom line is, one pound of weight translates to 3,500 calories. So with seven days in a week, a person must commit to a net loss of 500 calories per day. She also recommended that people balance out healthy eating with healthy exercise, one place for that being near her work site, the hospital’s Center for Rehabilitation and Wellness.
Other healthy holiday tips were to:
•Try wine spritzers, at about 75 calories, as an alternative to heavier alcoholic beverages;
•Take skin off the turkey; without it turkey offers 300 calories of lean, healthy protein per 6 ounces;
•Lose the crust on dessert dishes like pumpkin pies; doing so trims off up to 200 calories per piece;
•For baked potatoes, sprinkle on herbs, pepper, chives, and even olive oil, instead of butter, sour cream, cheese and brown sugar;
•Use just half a cup to one cup for serving sizes on mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and other holiday food staples;
•“De-fat” the turkey gravy and use juices from the pan, as one ladle of full fat gravy contains 200 calories;
•Take a walk after dining on a heavy meal; doing so lowers blood sugar, reduces stress and helps digestion while burning calories.