From The Nutritionist

Guest Author
Laura Crist, R.D., L.D.N

Top 5 Healthy Holiday Habits

Happy Holidays from our family to yours. We hope you are enjoying gathering with friends, family and co-workers during this wonderful time of year that often brings so many people together. We routinely hear stories about crazy holiday weight gain, but the truth is the average person in the US only gains about one to two pounds over the holidays. However, most of us do not ever lose that weight and carry it around with us the rest of our lives. This often leads to the extra 15 – 20 lbs of weight that many middle aged Americans are struggling to lose. Here are healthy ideas to incorporate into your regimen during this tempting season.

1) Eat Breakfast - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it provides you with energy to jumpstart your body and mind each day. Studies show that breakfast can be important in maintaining a healthy body weight. Hunger sets in long before it's time for lunch, but without healthful foods on hand, many people who have not eaten breakfast snack on foods that are typically high in fat and sugar. Incorporating breakfast into your daily routine doesn't have to be difficult. Here are some easy, tasty and scrumptious breakfast ideas: top a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, your favorite fruit and a dash of cinnamon; grab some yogurt and a whole grain granola bar; or try a glass of V8 V-Fusion® Wild Berry Smoothie.

2) Keep Exercising – continue to prioritize your regular workouts especially during the busy holiday season. Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. You don't need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap benefits. If you can't do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores. Get your whole family moving and go ice skating, build a snowman or do a holiday fun run or walk. Grab a friend or relative and walk and talk to reduce the stress sometimes associated with the holidays.

3) Get enough sleep - Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way your body processes and stores carbohydrates and by altering levels of hormones that affect your appetite. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

4) Mindful eating at holiday parties – Before you head out to a party, eat a healthy snack or light meal, this will make you less ravenous and savor each morsel you eat at the party. Enjoy plenty of holiday fruits and vegetables that are in season such as fresh citrus, pomegranates, holiday salads, butternut squash bisques and wassail, instead of extra cookies and candy. To ensure a healthier option at the party, you can always bring a platter of your own favorite healthy appetizer.

5) Make it a game or activity – Invite your family and friends to make more mindful eating choices with you and make it a little holiday competition while creating memories. Enjoy projects such as making wreaths, caroling or making homemade holiday cards. Planning your own holiday party? Change a few ingredients in your holiday treats to make them healthier, like substituting applesauce in place of oil, cutting down the sugar by half or using whole wheat flour in place of white.

Not sure what to give your friends and neighbors for the holidays? Why not create your own healthful gift basket with seasonal fruits, nuts, and whole grain breads. Consider hand delivering local cards and gifts to make them more personal and save a little money from postage. The more you involve others the more fun you will have and the healthier you and your family and friends will become.

Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!
Laura

References:
1) A Prospective study of holiday weight gain. New England Journal of Medicine. 2000Mar 23;342(12):861-7
2) Why Eat Breakfast? www.jhsph.edu/offices-and-services/student-affairs/Breakfast
3) 7 Benefits of Exercise http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676
4) The Importance of Sleep. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
5) How many hours of sleep are enough? http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487

Laura Crist, R.D., L.D.N.

Laura received her bachelor degree in dietetics from Brigham Young University and then completed a dietetic internship at University of Maryland. She also received her certificate in Adult weight management and training in 2007 while she was working as an outpatient dietitian for Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Laura has over seven years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, geriatrics, women's health and wellness and nutrition education. She is currently working as a nutrition consultant as she raises her three children at home.

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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.