This holiday, focus on the stars

Star ingredients — fruits and vegetables — can make holiday food healthy. But by adding sugar, salt and fats, those foods quickly pose health risks if eaten in excess.

Lifestyle

November 16, 2021 - 10:15 AM

Without question, one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the food. Some of my favorites include pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and, of course, dinner rolls. Food is an important part of every culture, and it plays an essential role in many of our holiday celebrations and traditions.

While these celebrations are to be encouraged, it is also worth noting that Americans usually gain one to three pounds (or more) during the holiday season. This may seem insignificant, but this excess weight can add up over the years and contribute to chronic health conditions. Furthermore, poor dietary quality is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease (or heart disease) which is the leading cause of death in Kansas.

So, how can we continue to enjoy our favorite holiday meals while also prioritizing our health? We can start by focusing on the “star” ingredients: the fruits and vegetables. This is a topic I recently presented at the Chanute Public Library. Attendees learned about how many of our favorite holiday dishes actually start with a healthy ingredient, whether it’s the pumpkin in a pumpkin pie or the green beans in a green bean casserole. When we focus on these star ingredients and make simple changes to reduce the amounts of fats, sugar, and salt usually found in holiday recipes, it becomes possible to enjoy our favorite holiday meals while simultaneously working to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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