Nutrient Dense Holiday Foods

HOLIDAY TIPS: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NUTRIENT DENSE HOLIDAY FOODS

We are all familiar with the holiday season routine: attending parties and  gatherings with family, friends, and colleagues and splurging over the never ending dinner table. When holidays are finally over, we cross our fingers  and nervously step on our bathroom scale  hoping we only gained a pound or two. Fortunately, many holiday foods such as pumpkin, turkey, cranberries, and sweet potatoes are nutrient dense and if prepared correctly and eaten in moderation can not only enhance our health but also can prevent us from gaining those holiday pounds.

Pumpkin

Did you know one serving of pumpkin has nearly two-and-a-half times the recommended intake of vitamin A, which plays an important role in vision and skin health. In addition to being rich in vitamin A, pumpkin is also rich in iron, which plays a role in transporting oxygen to our cells. Try using pumpkin in healthy soups, homemade breads,  pumplin pies, and casserole dishes.

Turkey

Turkey is not only a delicious protein but is a good source of B-vitamins, selenium and zinc, nutrients essential for optimal nerve and immune function. Hold off on eating the outer skin which is full of fat and go for the white meat which generally has a lower fat content than darker meat. Try basting your turkey with broth, sherry wine, and seasonings and less butter to reduce the fat content.

Cranberries

Cranberry is a super-food that provides color to our holiday dishes. It is rich in vitamin C, fiber and has more antioxidants than strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. When making cranberry sauce, try reducing the sugar content by 25% which still yields a delicious sauce. Try adding cranberries to meat dishes, muffins and desserts.

Sweet Potatoes

Don’t let the sweet nature of a sweet potato fool you. One medium sweet potato has over four times the recommended intake of vitamin A! It is also rich in vitamin C and Iron. So try incorporating sweet potatoes in your holiday dishes like  in potato salads, baked sweet potato fries, sweet potato ravioli stuffing, or even mashed sweet potatoes.

Holiday Recipe

Pumpkin Spiced Cranberry Sweet Potatoes

MAKES ABOUT 6 SERVINGS

Ingredients

4 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup dried cranberries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a 9×9 baking dish, combine the orange juice, vegetable oil, sugar, pumpkin spice, and salt.
3. Add potatoes and cranberries.
4. Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

By Teresa Nigro, Cal Poly Dietetic Intern

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