Eating healthy during the holiday season doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t enjoy the holiday season and have good food along with good times.
Good health is more than just physical health. It has been show that intergenerational gatherings support the physical and mental health of elders while at the same time offering youth and children a sense of connection with family and others. Working in the kitchen together can be an educational experience as children learn measuring, reading directions and patience.
Time off work during the holiday season may offer an opportunity for more physical exercise and even family outings to a fitness center.
Dinner dos and don’ts
During the holidays remember to eat regularly. If you are awaiting that “big dinner,” don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation; doing so risks feeling ravenous and eating everything in sight once the food is presented. Instead, have some low-fat, healthy snacks throughout the day.
At the dinner table don’t fill your plate with rich, calorie-laden food. Include available fruits and vegetables. Be cautious of sugary foods. Resist the urge to say yes to everyone that offers you food
If you are not hungry, simply say so. And, leave what you don’t want. Despite what your parents may have drummed into you as a child, “holiday indulging” is a time not to feel obliged to clear your plate. When you feel full, stop eating.
Pudding and potatoes at the Piephos
I had the opportunity to meet with Carolyn Piepho and her mother, Joyce Rundle. In recent years Carolyn has hosted the family holiday gatherings with ages ranging from 14 to Joyce who recently celebrated her 81st birthday.
It was fun to hear how Grandma Rundle (Joyce’s mother-in-law) used to prepare her Graham Cracker Pudding in the two-pound empty Crisco can.
Joyce now streamlines her cheesy potato dish by using packaged fresh hash browns, but she used to boil whole fresh potatoes then shred them for the dish. She chuckles as she recalls kitchen experiences with the grandchildren in the kitchen.
All Joyce’s grown children love to cook. Having grown up with “good tasting food,” Joyce believed they developed “discerning taste” and a desire for “healthy,” given lots of vegetables and salads were always on the meal table. And yes potatoes—Joyce’s mother was Irish.
What does Carolyn like most about cooking? “It is my canvas. I am never happier than when I am creating a beautiful meal.”
May the recipes that follow help you create memorable gatherings and the “balance” you desire over the holidays. May the warmth of connectedness with family and friends fill your days.