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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

The Holidays are Upon Us!

I am pleased to introduce guest blogger, Juila Marsiglio Emad.  Julia is a dietetic intern at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

It can be difficult to eat healthy all year round, but many people find the holiday season to be particularly challenging. As the weather get's colder and we get in the holiday spirit, parties and celebrations move indoors and often center on food. On top of this, many holiday traditions involve high-calorie foods: chocolate advent calendars, turkey feasts with all the fixings, gingerbread houses and more. The holidays are a time where sweets are plentiful.

Weight gain over the holidays can be a problem for some people. On top of that, people following diets for health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease can struggle to follow guidelines. For many, healthy eating goes out the window for several weeks every year.

Here are some tips for having a festive, healthy and happy holiday season!

· Make a plan for your holiday feast and stick to it: If you are cooking, decide beforehand which dishes you will have and how much of each dish is enough. If you are a guest, survey the food at the buffet station. Or decide which items you want as it is being passed around; then pass on the rest.

· Skip the pre-dinner appetizers: Festive parties often have plenty of sweets and appetizers to graze on before dinner. Have a healthy snack such as a banana and peanut butter or whole wheat crackers and low fat string cheese before the party starts instead. This will save you from being so ravenously hungry that you go overboard on appetizers. You'll save calories and enjoy the main meal more, too!

· Watch out for alcohol: Alcohol contains a whopping 7 Calories per gram (carbohydrates and protein contain 4 and fats contain 9), so alcoholic beverages can add up in Calories quicker than you think. Keep drinking moderate; the American Heart Association recommends 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men.

· Pass on foods you can have any day: Certain foods, such as turkey, or grandma's famous apple crumble may only be around one day a year, but other foods on the menu are more commonplace. If you already have buttery mashed potatoes twice a week, try other holiday favorites instead and remind yourself you'll be having those creamy potatoes shortly.

· Bring a lighter dish to parties: Bring something to parties that you know is healthy; you can always eat from that if there are no other lighter options. Try recipes that lighten up other holiday favorites such as the lighter eggnog recipe below!

Quick Fat-Free Eggnog

Prep time: 10 min

Makes 24, ½ cup servings

2 cups egg substitute (do not substitute whole eggs)

1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix

¼ cup sugar

1 oz. rum extract (if desired)

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 cups fat-free milk

2 cups fat-free whipped topping

Beat egg substitute, pudding, sugar, rum extract and nutmeg in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in milk until incorporated. Fold in whipped topping until well blended. Serve with sprinkle of nutmeg and/or garnish of cinnamon stick if desired. Keep refrigerated until served.

Nutrition Analysis per serving: 74 calories, 0.1g total fat, 1.7 mg cholesterol, 141.2 mg sodium, 12.9 g total carbohydrate, 0.0g dietary fiber, 5.0 g protein

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