Macaroni and cheese, candied yams, salty hams and tons of sugary desserts. These are just a few of the temptations between Thanksgiving and Christmas that could cause us to literally eat ourselves to death! Seriously.
But, there is hope for us all. Although November is traditionally observed as National Diabetes Month and even National Family Week at the end, let’s carry wise, life-giving habits into December and throughout the years ahead.
Heart disease, diabetes and stroke are all diet- and weight-related diseases that are among the leading causes of death for African Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But where there is discipline, there is hope.
Chef Huda, a personal chef and CEO/executive chef of culinary company Pretty and Delicious, says, “Eating healthy isn’t about giving up everything that you love, but about making better decisions.” As an ambassador for the American Heart Association, she offers a few of her tips for making delicious, health-conscious meals during the holidays and beyond:
- Use low-fat cheese and milk for that savory macaroni and cheese. Or use whole-grain, multigrain, gluten-free or vegetable noodles.
- Instead of the brown sugar and marshmallows for the yams, roast a sweet potato.
- Season greens with smoked turkey, herbs, garlic or onions.
- Teach children wise eating habits. Take them to the grocery store or the farmer’s market to help select foods. Google types of veggies with them to include in meals. Also, let them help with preparation by tearing lettuce or snapping the green beans.
- Teach children how to cook healthy. Chef Huda’s 7-year-old nephew, Dest’n Montague, is often by her side. One of his favorites? Crispy kale, a substitute for chips. Just break kale leaves into chip-size pieces, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 425 degrees until crispy (10-15 minutes). You can even use dip with them!
- For holiday parties and receptions, choose chicken breast and veggie skewers for appetizers. Fresh fruit with dark chocolate is a healthy favorite for the sweet tooth.
- Limit the alcohol and choose low-calorie drinks such as sparkling water, unsweetened tea or diet beverages.
There are so many easy ways to make food healthier, Chef Huda says. “Just use your imagination and you don’t have to give up the flavors that you love.”
Credit: Courtesy of Fritz Photographics
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