Kwanzaa is an African-American cultural holiday whose name is derived from the Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits.” The celebration itself is a time to reflect on family and culture, as well as the well-being of both family and community. Pass the gift of health to future generations by celebrating with true “fruits of the harvest.”
1. Think about the benefits of healthier eating for both body and mind. Traditional foods for this holiday are actually high in fat content, which can contribute to heart disease and weight gain, so choose portion sizes wisely to celebrate with health in mind. Many of the diseases that affect African Americans can be positively impacted by dietary choices – high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and obesity are all diseases that are quite common but may be improved upon by dietary choices and doctor-approved activity. Even losing just a few pounds can be effective in helping to improve health!
2. Instead of high-fat sweet potato fritters, try a baked yam topped with light sour cream, or try mixing in low-fat spreadable cheese or 1/3 less fat cream cheese for a creamy, smart and tasty alternative.
3. In place of high-fat fried okra, try okra with stewed tomatoes. This vibrantly colored dish is lower in fat/calories and higher in nutrients like potassium and vitamin C.
4. Black-eyed peas with ham may be high in sodium if you use a canned or smoked ham, so try fresh turkey with your black-eyed peas.
5. For a succulent succotash that is nutritious, try simmering chicken with onion, garlic, celery, low-sodium chicken bouillon, baby lima beans, fresh corn (or use canned corn that has been drained to reduce sodium) and frozen cut okra, then add some chopped tomatoes. It’s a delicious way to eat a leaner protein (chicken) while including vegetables.
6. With thought to the colors included in traditional celebrations, try creating a beautiful, healthful relish tray with red and green bell peppers, broccoli, radishes, green beans and tomatoes. Try roasting them in the oven with a small amount of olive oil and herbs for a flavorful holiday presentation.
7. Spend time teaching your children about good food and activity choices. Talking with your children will help them understand what they can do to stay healthy, and participating with them will not only give them the gift of time, it will also show them the importance of caring for themselves, which is a gift that can last throughout the year.
Greens with Apples & Candied Walnuts
Photo Credit: JEWEL-OSCO
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Amount: 8 servings
Make candied walnuts ahead of time and store in an airtight container. Salads can be partially assembled up to 1 hour ahead; keep covered and refrigerated. Add walnuts and apples just before serving.
1 (10 ounce) package Italian mixed greens
8 slices Jewel® thick sliced bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
4 ounces reduced fat blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup Candied Walnuts (below)
2 cups sliced Granny Smith apples
1 cup prepared balsamic vinaigrette
Arrange mixed greens among 8 salad plates. Top with bacon, blue cheese, walnuts and apples. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve.
In medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons Jewel® butter over medium heat. Add 1 (6 ounce) package Baking Classics™ chopped walnuts; sauté 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup Jewel® brown sugar; stir until sugar is completely melted and bubbly. Remove from heat and spread on homelife™ aluminum foil that has been sprayed with Jewel® no stick cooking spray. Be sure to separate walnuts as much as possible. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Amount: 1 2/3 cups
By Kim Kirchherr, MS, RD, LDN, CDE
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