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December 1, 2010

What's Healthy About Holiday Goodies

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

True or False: All holiday foods are high in calories, full of artery-clogging fat, and altogether bad for you.

Answer: False! 

You can forget the guilt.  These seasonal favorites are actually good for you, as long as you don't overdo it, of course!  

Apple Pie  Apples are full of heart-healthy fiber, and fluid that helps to keep you full.  Have the apple pie, but save hundreds of calories when you forgo the crust or serve with ½ cup Hood Vanilla Fat Free Frozen Yogurt  for just 90 calories, zero fat, and 10% of your daily requirement for calcium. Even better, bake whole apples with the skin on for a healthier alternative to pie. 

Cheese  Hard cheese, such as cheddar, Havarti, and Swiss, offer the most bone-building protein and calcium. One and a half ounces of cheese supplies as much calcium as eight ounces of milk. Choose reduced-fat cheese for less saturated fat and cholesterol, and pair it with fresh fruit or vegetables to control calories and fat.

Cocoa and Dark Chocolate  Chocolate helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. For the greatest benefit, nibble on small portions of 70% dark chocolate as part of a balanced diet.  Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate prepared with cocoa powder, which contains high levels of helpful plant substances that promote good health, without the fat of dark or milk chocolate. 

Cranberries These brightly colored jewels curb the growth of bacteria that cause most urinary tract infections. Get the greatest benefit from these berries when you  forgo canned cranberry sauce and make your own in minutes with fresh berries. Include dried cranberries in cookies and quick breads, or eat ¼ cup, a serving of fruit, as a snack. 

Egg Nog  Egg Nog is my favorite holiday food, and my kids love it, too.  A cup of Hood Light EggNog  supplies the same amount of calcium and protein in a glass of Hood Milk . Egg nog has more calories and fat than milk, but Hood EggNog is available for a short time each year, so enjoy. 

Nuts  Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and other nuts supply heart-healthy unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, plant compounds that protect cells from damage. Eat nuts plain (as opposed to pecan pie, for example) to limit calories and fat.  A one-ounce portion, about the amount that fits into a small palm, is all you need to reap nuts' many benefits. 

Pumpkin  Pumpkin packs potassium, fiber, and carotenoids, the raw materials for making vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals, forms of oxygen that damage your cells.  Get your pumpkin fix without busting your "calorie budget" by skipping the crust on pumpkin pie, and preparing lower-fat versions of recipes for pumpkin muffins and quick breads.  Add canned pumpkin to homemade or canned soup for extra creaminess and a boost of nutrition. 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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