They smell amazing in your kitchen while you’re cooking, but like fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices contain healthy, disease preventing phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are plant compounds that help protect the plant from disease. We also benefit from disease prevention when we eat plant foods! Use some of these holiday spices in your cooking this season and year round for health benefits!
Allspice-A versatile spice and can be used with meats, veggies and sweets. It pairs well with apples, beets, cabbage and game meats.
Anise- A distinct flavor of licorice. Use in baked goods and fruit preserves and savory dishes like soups and stews. Pairs well with fish, game, pork, peaches, pumpkin, seafood, root veggies and tea.
Cinnamon- One of the most popular holiday spice. It is used to enhance fruit flavor and also bring out the natural sweetness in foods so less sugar can be used. It pairs well with fruit, coffee, grains, meats, squash, yams, pumpkins and more.
Cloves- Used in baked goods like cookies, cake and pie. Pairs well with apples, carrots, peaches pineapple, pumpkin and root vegetables.
Ginger- Used in gingerbread, gingersnaps, fruit pies, savory and Asian dishes. Pairs well with peaches, pears, poultry, pumpkin, root veggies, seafood and tea. It enhances the flavor in salt-free seasonings.
Nutmeg- Mostly used in baking, but can be used in savory dishes like soups, stews and meats. Nutmeg is commonly added to egg nog (try a lower-fat version).
Sage- Used to flavor poultry, soups, stews, rice, bread and more. It pairs well with apples, beans, cheese, seafood and tomatoes.
Try sprinkling cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves on yogurt and apples! Delicious and reap the health benefits!
Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks
- How are you going to prevent holiday weight gain this season?Although the average holiday season weight gain is only 1-2 pounds, the problem is the weight gain isn’t lost each year. Now is the time to plan how you are going to prevent the weight gain. The average Thanksgiving dinner and grazing can be over 2000 calories!Tips for a healthier Thanksgiving:
- Don’t skip meals before the Thanksgiving dinner to save on calories because you actually may end up eating more calories in the end! If you are starving when you sit down to eat your Thanksgiving meal you are likely to eat more than usual. The foods served also tend to be higher calorie. Just 1 cup of stuffing and 2-3 slices of dark meat turkey with the skin could be over 500 calories. The pecan pie or pumpkin pie for dessert can add another 300-500 calories!
- Choose only your favorite foods and leave the others.
- Keep portions in control-instead of a cup of stuffing and a cup of mashed potatoes have ½ cup. Instead of choosing 2 full pieces of pie, choose 1 full piece of your favorite pie or cut a sliver of each to try instead of a full piece of both.
- If you are doing the Thanksgiving cooking, choose to substitute some lower-fat or fat-free ingredients in place of the high-fat ingredients. Such as, cool the turkey broth to skim the solidified fat off the top before making the gravy, make mashed potatoes with skim milk and soft tub margarine instead of whole milk and butter and make pumpkin pie lighter using a crust free recipe, skim milk and egg whites!
- Don’t forget to plan some fun physical activity into your day! Take a walk and find some of the last fall colors, play some tag football with the family, or turn on some music and do some line dancing! It doesn’t matter what you choose, but choose to move and not just nap in front of the TV!
Choose Nutrition For Your Meals and Snacks!
Gardens are providing an abundance of nutritious harvest right now so there is no excuse for not choosing nutrition for our meals and snacks. Next time you choose the food for your meal or snack, ask yourself if it will provide your body with nutrition to energize you to do the activities you want to do throughout the day. Or is what you are choosing providing bad fats, empty calories and sugar that can increase the level of inflammation in the body that promotes disease? Choose the foods that provide your body with macronutrients (complex carbohydrate, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), antioxidants and phytochemicals. Plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and lentils, nuts and seeds) can give us most of the nutrients mentioned and are loaded with thousands of phytochemicals, which are compounds in the plants that protect the plant from getting disease. Phytochemicals will also help protect our body from getting disease!
Start at your next meal by choosing raw vegetables and dip instead of chips or a baked apple or pear for dessert instead of a hot fudge sundae. Choose a trail mix with dried fruit and nuts without the chocolate instead of M & M’s for your next snack. Instead of soda or a sweetened beverage, pour a glass of skim milk. Nutrition should be your choice most of the time because your health is worth it!
Consider giving some healthier items to trick-or-treaters this year or at least don’t buy candy that you like because you will eat the leftovers! Remember Halloween starts the holiday season and the average weight gain over the holiday season is 1-2lb which may not seem like much, but the weight is usually not lost from year to year! Here are some healthy Halloween ideas:
Clementines or small oranges decorated like Jack-O-Lanterns (with non-toxic ink)
100% juice boxes or pouches
Snack-sized packages of pretzels, popcorn, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts or pumpkin seeds
Snack-sized packages of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as baby carrots or apple slices
Mini boxes of raisins 100% real fruit strips, ropes or leathers
Squeezable yogurt tubes or pouches
Sugar-free chewing gum
Non-edible items: (some items may not be appropriate for all ages-choking hazard)
Glow sticks or small glow-in-the-dark toys
Crayons and coloring books
Stickers or stamps
Soap bubble makers
Plastic spider rings or vampire teeth
Use your noodle
I tried a meatless dish today that tasted wonderful! It is so satisfying and filling you don’t miss meat, but the original recipe has chicken in it so you could add it if you want to. The original recipe also has over a teaspoon of salt, but it is not needed. The “noodles” are made of zucchini. A Veggetti® tool was used to make zucchini noodles. You could use other vegetables too like carrots, cucumbers, beets etc. and they are all low in carbohydrate if you are limiting them for blood sugar control and low in calories for weight loss or weight management. I talked with someone today who shreds the vegetables and freezes them until ready for use!
Arugula Pesto Vegetable Dish
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 cups arugula or spinach
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 medium zucchini
- 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Pulse arugula, basil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor until chopped. While processing, gradually add ¼ cup oil in a steady stream until mixture is smooth (experiment with adding less). Shred zucchini lengthwise into long strands.
In a large skillet sprayed with olive oil, add zucchini strands. Cook and stir until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tomatoes, pesto, and pepper; toss to coat. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Adapted from recipe on Taste of Home