Enjoying the Holidays Without the Guilt or Weight Gain
By: Robin Amylon
The holiday season is now upon us and I don’t know about you guys but for my family that means total food fest. Traditional holiday meals usually consist of several carb loaded dishes such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, potato pancakes and biscuits, as well as cranberry sauce, green bean salad and of course a turkey or ham that can leave you in a food coma for days. And let’s not forget all the desserts: fudge, cookies, doughnuts, apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, sweet potato pie…..and the list goes on and on. Between Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and all the holiday parties in between, December usually turns into a whole month of overindulgence and gluttony. It doesn’t have to be that way however. Yes, it’s ok to enjoy some ham, mashed potatoes and pie on your actual holiday, but you don’t need to go overboard. All it takes is a little planning and strategizing. Here are some tips on how to avoid over-doing it this holiday season.
- Don’t Save Up Your Calories! Don’t skip breakfast and lunch in an effort to save up calories for the evening feast. The worst thing you can do is arrive starving as it can cause you to overeat. Start your day with a small, but satisfying breakfast, such as eggs with a bowl of oatmeal and then in the afternoon have a healthy lunch, like a big salad with avocado and grilled chicken. Having a balanced, nutritious meal full of protein and fiber for breakfast and lunch will take the edge off your appetite come dinner time and allow you to make better choices.
- Come With a Plan. Establish some ground rules for the meal and then stick with them. For example, only allowing yourself a sliver of pie, or one serving of mashed potatoes, or limiting yourself to one plate (no second helpings).
- Eat the Food You Love. Spend your calories on the traditional holiday foods you look forward to rather than foods you can have all year long. Also, don’t eat food just because it’s there. Choose the foods you really love.
- Fill Up on Veggies and Protein. Plain roasted vegetables and protein (whether it’s chicken, turkey, ham, fish, etc.) are the healthiest holiday food choices. They are also quite filling, so fill up the majority of your plate with these dishes so you aren’t as tempted by the less healthy options.
- Eat Slowly. Really take your time to chew your food, savor it and enjoy it. As I’ve said in previous articles, the brain needs approximately 20 minutes to receive the signal that you’ve eaten a sufficient amount. If you are someone who normally inhales their meals SLOW DOWN! Take your time, savor every bite, give yourself a chance to really taste and enjoy your food. This will not only help you to pay attention to how much you eat but also to when you start to feel full.
- Go Easy on the Alcohol. As we all know alcohol adds excess empty calories. It also stimulates appetite which leads to overconsumption. If you plan on drinking choose a light beer or use low calorie cocktail mixers such as seltzer water, lemon juice or lime juice to keep calories as low as possible. Also make sure to drink plenty of water before and after each drink to maintain adequate hydration and reduce the risk of the next day hangover.
- Be Active! Keep up with your workouts during the holidays to counter balance the extra calories you will be consuming. Even plan a workout on the actual holiday. If the box isn’t open, bundle up for a morning jog in the park or go for a walk as a family after dinner.
- Be Realistic! The holiday season is a time for celebration with family and friends. With holiday parties, busy schedules and extra temptations, it makes it quite difficult to achieve further weight loss. Rather than trying to lose weight during this time, weight maintenance would be a better and more realistic goal. Just by being able to prevent the usual holiday weight gain that occurs during this time of year, you will already be ahead of the game.
What’s Up Next Week: Know Your ABCs. Vitamin of the Month
This Week’s Recipe: Paleo Apple Pie
For the Crust:
- 2 cups almond flour
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored grass-fed gelatin
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, maple sugar or sucanat
- 1 large egg yolk
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee, cold, cut into tablespoons
For the Apple Filling:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
- 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 4 Pink Lady or Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut milk or heavy cream
For the Topping:
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot flour
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
Crust: Place almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, sugar and gelatin in the bowl of a food processor. Process 2-3 times to combine. Add yolk and butter. Pulse with 10 one-second pulses and then let the food processor run until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Pour dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap then press the dough into a 9-inch disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 ºF and adjust rack to middle position. Remove plastic wrap from the dough. Press dough onto bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch buttered pie dish. Crimp edges of crust. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Place a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pie crust and cover with pie weights or beans. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until just turning golden brown.
Filling: Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add apples, coconut sugar, cinnamon and sea salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until apples release their moisture and sugar is melted. Pour coconut milk or cream over apples and continue to cook, stirring frequently until apples are soft and liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes.
Topping: Place almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot, gelatin and coconut sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process 2-3 times to combine. Add butter. Pulse with 10 one-second pulses and then let the food processor run until the mixture just comes together to form a dough (you want it to be a crumbly mixture). Spread crumbs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Carefully remove sheet of parchment with hot crumbs to the counter and place the pie crust (still in the pie dish) on the baking sheet. Pour the apple filling into the crust and then top with hot crumbs. Place strips of foil or a pie shield over the edges of the crust to avoid burning. Bake for 10-12 minutes until topping is just turning golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes. Serve.