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Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Martina shares recipes for festive, flavorful and fun dishes

Many of us associate the holidays with a dreaded 10-pound weight gain. Good news: That's a myth. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 found that the average American generally gains only one pound over the holidays. However, that extra pound can add up when repeated year after year.

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That's why it's still a good idea not to eat too much during the holiday season. Take the moderate approach: Enjoy everything and overdo nothing. Moderation can pilot you through the holidays without fear of weight gain.

And yes, meals can be festive, flavorful, and healthy. Give yourself a little leeway on calories during the holiday season, but try to make sure they come from satisfying, healthy foods, rather than sugary, fatty ones.

Don't give up your exercise program, either. Offset those extra calories by adding a few minutes to your exercise regimen. Get to the gym, crank up some holiday music, and dance, or walk instead of driving. Although this is a hectic season, devoting time to fitness will pay huge dividends later.

Here are some of my favorite holiday recipes. Bon appétit!

Martina's Holiday Menu

Beverage: Mock Wine
Alcohol can really pack on the calories during the holidays. Try this nutritious "wine" instead.

2 cups sweet grapes (seedless)
1 cup blueberries
2 celery stalks

Juice together all ingredients, serve in wine glasses, and enjoy. Makes 4 servings.

Appetizer: Herbed-Yogurt Cheese
This is a delicious dip that tastes like sour cream but without all the fat. It's a healthy option for bowl game snacks, too.

4 cups plain yogurt
Fresh chopped herbs to taste

Line a strainer with a coffee filter. Spoon 4 cups of plain yogurt on to the coffee filter. Place the lined strainer over a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. The whey will drain out of the yogurt and leave a creamy yogurt cheese, which can be used on baked potatoes, as a spread on toast or crackers, or as a dip for raw vegetables. Add a few pinches of your favorite herbs to the cheese: garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, or whatever you prefer.

Entrée: Maple-Glazed Turkey Cutlets
Turkey is high in protein and low in fat. Here's an easy way to fix it that's just perfect for the holidays.

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
½ teaspoons corn starch
1 tablespoon cold water
4 turkey cutlets (about 5 ounces each)

To make the glaze, whisk together maple syrup, teriyaki sauce, corn starch, and water in a small bowl. Place cutlets in a shallow oven-proof dish that has been lightly coated with vegetable oil. Drizzle glaze over turkey and bake in a 350-degree oven about 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Baste once with glaze during baking. Makes 4 servings.

Side Dish: Fresh Herb Salad
A delicious salad like this will fill you up so that you won't stuff yourself at the holiday table.

1 package mixed green salad
2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Assorted chopped salad vegetables

Mix together all ingredients and toss with your favorite vinaigrette. Makes 4 servings.

Next: Save room for dessert. >>

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