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Health Matters: Practicing healthy eating around the holidays

Laura Lutz : Guest Columnist

The holidays are just around the corner and that means a time to celebrate with friends and family. According to the National Institute of Health, holiday eating and over eating may result in a weight gain of a pound or two every year. This can really add up over the years. It is important to remember during the holidays, the goal is to maintain weight and avoid weight gain. It is important to focus on a healthy balance between activity, food, and fun.
Tips to try while cooking:
Use two egg whites instead of one whole egg to help reduce cholesterol and produce the same delicious outcome.
Choose low sodium, fat-free chicken broth to add flavor in your mashed potatoes and help lighten the fat content.
Substitute apple sauce for oil, butter, or margarine in baked goods like muffins, brownies, and quick breads.
Use non-fat or fat-free yogurt, whipped toppings and sour creams in sauces, pie toppings and dips.
Try an alternative crunchy topping;  use sliced almonds in place of fried onion rings.
Tips to try at holiday parties:
Eat beforehand. Eating a light healthy snack before a party will help curb your appetite and help keep you from over-indulging on everything there.
Choose to only eat your favorite foods there, survey the selections, and skip your least favorite items.
Don’t forget to include fruits and veggies on your plate.
Do not over stuff yourself; only eat until you are satisfied. Enjoy your favorite treats in small portions.
Be careful with both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages because most will provide empty calories and extra sugar.
If you recognize that you have over eaten at one meal, go lite on the next one.
Bring your own healthy dish that you know you can enjoy to a holiday gathering.
Don’t forget to stay active!
Make time for exercising. This can help keep the holiday pounds off and help relieve some stress. Try walking 15 minutes a day, twice a day.
Instead of making baked goods, enjoy time with your family. Plan group activities, playing games, or go on a walking tour to see decorated homes.
Hot holiday crab dip
8 ounces reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese (Neufchatel), room temperature
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon crab boil spices, (recommended: Old Bay)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 freshly ground pepper
12 ounces fresh crab meat, picked over for bits of shell and patted dry
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Whole-wheat crackers for serving (optional)
Stir together the cream cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, crab boil spice, pepper, and garlic in a medium saucepan until smooth.
Heat the cream cheese mixture over medium-low heat until warm, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in the crab, scallions, parsley and lemon juice and warm until heated through, about 1 minute.
Serve immediately. Refrigerate left overs.
Nutritional analysis per 1/4 cup serving (does not include crackers)Calories 125; Total Fat 8g (Sat Fat 4g, Mono Fat 2g, Poly Fat 0.5g); Protein 11g; Carb 2g; Fiber 0g; Cholesterol                                      58mg; Sodium 349mg.
Laura Lutz is a dietetic intern and Carolinas Medical Center- Lincoln.

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