Now that school has started and it is only one week until Rosh Hashanah, the holiday season is upon us. What does that mean besides going to synagogue, listening to the shofar, engaging in a time of introspection and evaluation and looking forward to good things for the year to come?
To me, as a nutritionist, its means a lot of cooking, eating and high-calorie food. Of course, food is an integral part of celebrating traditional Jewish holidays, and the abundance of food is to symbolize sweetness for the year to come. Although it is important for everyone to enjoy himself or herself, that can be accomplished in a healthful way.
Tips for surviving during holiday periods:
1. Plan ahead—eat light early in the day before a holiday meal.
2. Have a protein/vegetable snack before going to festive meals so you don’t arrive hungry.
3. Stay hydrated—drink a lot of water.
4. Eat slowly. Put your fork down between bites—easier said than done!
5. Exercise throughout the holidays—and offer to help serve and clean up as it burns more calories than just sitting at the table.
6. Choose special foods that have meaning to the holiday, and don’t waste calories on chips, nuts etc.
7. Fill your plate with vegetables.
Have you ever noticed that nobody eats so much anymore but we all prepare a feast of traditional foods: fish, soup, salad, meat, chicken, kugel, rice, maybe potatoes etc.? If we prepared a feast of healthy alternatives it would still be festive and delicious, but healthier.
I would like to suggest substituting more vegetables at your table for some high-carb side dishes. A large platter of roasted vegetables is so beautiful everyone wants to eat it. Roast different color vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, peppers, beets, zucchini, asparagus and red onions. Take a large white platter and arrange the vegetables in rows on the platter. This is so easy to prepare, can be served at room temperature so it does not take up room in the oven, is very low in calories and looks very appetizing.
I would also recommend two entertaining modifications. First, combine fish and salad courses by serving a salad with fish in it as the first course. Second, eliminate rice and substitute with cauliflower rice to bring down the calories in the meal.
A happy and healthy New Year to all!
Fish Appetizer Salad—serves ~ 6 people
- 12 oz. imitation crabmeat or seared tuna cut in chunks 8- 12 cups mesclun greens
- 1 yellow pepper, diced in small pieces
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in ½
- 6 scallions, sliced thin
- 1 handful of toasted sesame or sunflower seeds
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ½ diced red onion
- 1 fresh lemon – adding the zest and the juice
- 1 teaspoon of sriracha
- ¼ cup minced parsley
Seared tuna: Take tuna, season with spices and sear in pan of hot oil for 3 minutes each side
Make the dressing and toss with all other ingredients.
Holiday Cauliflower Rice – serves 6
- 2 heads of riced cauliflower, or 2 bags already riced
- 1 Vidalia onion, diced small
- 1 bag grated carrots
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth
- Pomegranate seeds for garnish
1. Put cauliflower and water in microwave-safe dish and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender.
2. Sauté the onion in a little oil. When it starts to soften add the carrots. Sauté until soft.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Combine cooked cauliflower, sautéed vegetables and the broth.
5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
By Jamie Feit