The holiday season is fast approaching! Oftentimes the fun is focused on the party days, but what happens when you transform every day lunches into something fun and healthy? Here are three tips to celebrate healthy holidays all season long.
- Color your world. Halloween colors include purple, orange, and black. What foods can you think of to incorporate into meals all month long? Try some of these seasonal favorites for starters:
- Sweet potatoes: roast wedges for a side dish. Serve with whipped cream cheese, or brush olive oil and sprinkle with parsley, salt, and pepper. Mash for a hearty, side, or add in to soups/stews.
- Black beans: toss in soups and casseroles, make a tasty side dish, or elevate it to the main dish! Beans are nutrient rich, easy to use, and can add in flavor and interest in so many dishes. Rinse canned beans to help reduce the sodium.
- Carrots: shredded, sliced, whole, raw, cooked. What’s your favorite? Try roasting them whole and eating as a snack (cold or reheated), cut them up after roasting for salads, soups, stews, and casseroles, or try them as a side to an omelet at breakfast.
- Prunes: a great snack on their own, but tons of other uses too! Bake with them, chop and add to a fall salad, or try them in a main dish.
- Oranges: washed and served whole, they are a great take-along snack that travels well. Just pack a napkin and a container or baggie for the peels if you are on the go. Or add cut up slices into yogurt or on a salad. Did you know the vitamin C in oranges helps with iron absorption? So try a spinach salad with oranges.
- Raisins: stir into oatmeal, add to cold cereal, toss in salads with bitter greens, or eat them as a snack on their own. Stick some to an apple with peanut butter for an easy and fun “lady bug” snack or enjoy a twist on the favorite “ants on a log” with celery and peanut butter (assuming allergies aren’t an issue). One more? Try topping your cheese and crackers or adding to grilled cheese for interest. Use Halloween cookie cutters to shape the sandwiches.
- Cheddar (or other orange) cheese: Offer grilled cheese, sliced or shredded on pizza, salad or soup, and in eggs or on crackers. Pair with slices of seasonal fruit or roasted veggies at any time of day.
- Party up your presentation. Cookie cutters not only work for cookies, but for sandwiches as mentioned above, and other foods like slices of melon, cheese or lean deli meats, or pancakes and tortillas! Take every day foods and use the seasonal cookie cutters for fun (and balanced choices) year round. Take time to set the table, add fresh flowers from the garden or have the kids color a picture that showcases the season to add as placemats for everyone. It doesn’t have to cost too much to bring fun to every day meals and better choices.
- Think beyond the traditional choices. How about breakfast for dinner? Or lunch for breakfast? Who says there have to be rules about when you eat what? Soup on a cold morning might be great for a weekend brunch, or an omelet after a hectic day is a fast way to get dinner on the table. Add seasonal veggies and serve with toast or in a tortilla that’s the shape of the season – like a pumpkin.
Kim Kirchherr, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, FAND