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A Healthy Serving of Holiday Cheer
By Ezinne Ukoha

Tis the season to eat and be merry! But all that eating and merriment may cost you a lifetime membership to a gym and calorie overload amongst other things. No need to fret, there is a way to willingly and safely indulge yourself without having to pay a hefty price.  

The failing economy did bring some positives with it. It forced some of us to be creative when it comes to economizing and to re-examine how we have been spending our money and utilizing our resources. This mentality also trickled down to our eating habits. Now more than ever, people are generally more concerned about their health especially with health care being a major issue and people trying their hardest not to end up in the emergency room. Here are a few tips on how to enjoy the coming holiday season guilt-free. 

Cooking for the holidays is already a lot of pressure, so taking that time to experiment may prove to be a risky venture. But there is nothing wrong with substituting a few key ingredients if the end results turn out be just as tasty-- which could mean a few extra helpings. Stuffing is virtually a staple dish for any holiday menu. Instead of using sausage or turkey fat, you can turn to whole or multi-grains as an alternative. Cornbread is a big favorite. Another one is wild rice; they each provide enough texture and substance without sacrificing flavor. You can even add mushrooms and almonds to the mix for a little liveliness and variety.

For the main event which would be the turkey, there are several ways to cook your bird that will allow you to eliminate the standard gravy and fat mixture. Roasted Turkey with Balsamic and Brown Sugar Sauce is easy to prepare and simply delicious and most importantly low on calories. The main ingredients are: 

1 Whole Turkey

1 Tablespoon olive oil

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

3 to 4 cloves of garlic 

The Sauce mix:

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup defatted pan drippingd 3 tablespoons brown sugar  

To prepare:

Rinse the turkey inside and out

After patting the turkey dry,place breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan

Rub the turley with the oil, a spig of rosemary and the garlic cloves

Place all of the rosemary and garlic inside the bird

Loosely tie the legs together and then place in the middle of the oven

And bake. For a 15 pound turkey, it’ll probably bake for about 31/2 to 4 hours. 

Don’t forget to preheat oven to 325 F.

For more detailed instructions on churning out the perfect healthy turkey and other mouth-watering holiday dish sides, check out  www.mayoclinic.com  and do a search on healthy holiday recipes. 

The key to keeping fit during the holiday festivities is making the effort to be calorie-conscious. Use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk; try applesauce as a substitute for oil. Try to create well balanced dishes that include the necessary helpings of fruits and vegetables. Keep your alcoholic intake to a minimum and try to incorporate more non-alcoholic drinks like the festive hot cider and diet sodas. If you are planning on attending quite a few gatherings this season try to not eat everything in sight. Pace yourself and choose only the items that appeal to you the most and eat them in small portions. It’s easy to get carried away especially when standing in front of a buffet. Be cautious and reasonable. Remember the holidays isn’t only about eating and drinking, but also making the most of the time you spend with loved ones and friends. So be sure to make that time count. Happy Feasting!