Well friends, by the time you are reading this, the wrappings will have been torn off, the excitement will have dulled and the joys of Christmas morning will have been shared. It is my hope that your Christmas was one filled with love and blessings!
As we look to the New Year, we are so lucky to be able to live in a place of abundance…and the opportunity to do as we wish. We have freedom to choose what we see and do, and luckily, what we eat! One of my favorite things to do is stroll the isles of our local markets and simply marvel at the variety of colors, textures, smells and tastes of the foods in front of me. Leave it to me to like to sight see in a super market!
As many of us do, I like to think of the New Year as an opportunity to start fresh in my quest to eat healthy. Out with the junk food of the holiday season and in with fresh and light. It is also a great time to purge your cupboards and refrigerator of out dated and unused items. Let’s face it, if you haven’t opened or finished some of these things over the holidays, what are the chances you will do so in the next few weeks? Let’s focus on clean, healthy eating!
Start at the beginning…many recipes call for fats such as butter or oil. By cutting back on saturated fats we can reduce the calories and fat content. In sweet recipes, you can substitute applesauce for the butter or oil. In savory recipes, you can substitute an oil that is better for you, such as extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, or the latest “new thing”, coconut oil for the called for vegetable oil. There are also many newer sugar substitutes available, as well. Unlike the saccharine of the past, the new products look, measure and act the same as real sugar, but contain far fewer calories. Something as simple as replacing the teaspoon of sugar you sprinkle on your morning cereal or stir into your cup of coffee can add up to caloric savings after time!
Another idea to add extra nutrition to your foods is to add a bit of vegetable or fruit puree to your recipes. By thoroughly cooking cauliflower, broccoli or carrots, you will easily be able to puree them so that when mixed in with other ingredients, they will not be recognized! I have a friend who has done this for years to get her kids to eat more veggies. A quarter cup of mashed broccoli will blend unnoticed into brownie batter and a cup or two of mashed cauliflower mixed with mashed potatoes will cut the carb count per serving, and how about adding finely chopped mushrooms and a little shredded zucchini to your ground beef for meatballs or meatloaf? The amounts added are small enough to blend in without being noticed, and you will be the only one to know it really is good for them! My suggestion for all of this, however, is to make the changes when you are cooking alone. My family will eat a lot of different things if they don’t know exactly what they are eating!
As with anything, moderation is the key to healthy eating. We tend to look at the nutrition facts on a package, but ignore the number of servings and portion size. My boys will tell you that a serving is however much they can eat at one sitting. Not so! We can eat many of the things we like and want as long as we go with the concept that a “little dab will do ya!” A small amount can cure a craving. Just because you can eat an entire box of cereal at a time does not mean you should! Even those crazy “gotta have it” chocolate cravings can be subdued by one small bite rather than an entire candy bar! I keep a stash of mini peanut butter cups on hand for just such occasions!
Dear friends, I hope that this New Year finds you happy and healthy, and ready to Join Me in the Kitchen for a new year of recipes and cooking hints! Cheers and Love to you all!
- 1 c water
- ½ c sweet potato puree
- ¼ t cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 1 c pancake mix
- 1 T canola oil
- Nonstick cooking spray
Mix ingredients in a large bowl, stirring just until combined-the batter should be lumpy.
Coat griddle with cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, scoop the batter by ¼ cup for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on the top of each pancake then flip to cook the other side for 2-3 minutes more.
Serve with light syrup or jam.
To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.