Enjoy Guilt-Free Spring Celebrations

Celebrations, such as Easter, bring time with friends, family, and of course good food! While what we eat shouldn’t cause us to feel guilty, many times heavier holiday foods can make us feel like giving up our health and nutrition goals. Spring is the perfect to time to renew those new years resolutions and get back on track.

Get into the swing of spring with these guilt-free tips for healthy and festive celebrations:

1.     Think Lean Protein

Ham is often an Easter tradition, but comes pre-seasoned with sauces and rubs that add additional calories, sodium, and fat. If you are serving ham, try to find a low-sodium option or buy a plain version and doctor it up yourself at home.

If you are looking for a leaner option, try turkey or chicken. Most of the fat is found in the skin, but you can still cook the the full bird with the skin on, as long as you remove it before eating. If your family is up for something new, try serving fish as the entrée such as salmon, snapper, or tilapia. Fish is very lean and what little fat it has is healthier, unsaturated fat.

No matter your entrée, remember portion sizes and preparation method. A serving of protein is 3 to 4 ounces or about the size of a deck of cards. Try to cook your protein using methods that do not add extra fat such as baking, grilling, broiling or roasting.

2.     Add Spring Produce to your Sides & Appetizers

Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients, but low in calories. The fiber also keeps you fuller longer and helps you to avoid overeating on the heavy stuff.

Many fruits and vegetables have a spring growing season. Try including produce such as spinach, asparagus, and strawberries in your sides and appetizers. These fruits and vegetables contain vitamins A, C, and K and the mineral, iron.

  1. Lighten Up Your Dessert

You can substitute more nutritious foods to make your recipes a little healthier, such as applesauce instead of oil in baked goods, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and low-fat dairy instead of full-fat dairy. Using whole-wheat flour instead of refined flour adds fiber and nutrients to keep you fuller and more satisfied.

Make sure you stick to portion sizes. A typical dessert serving is about the size of a post-it note for bars or brownies and roughly the size of a light bulb for pies and cakes. You could even prepare individual desserts to avoid over-indulgence, such as this recipe:

5 Minute Carrot Cake for One

Ingredients:

-       1/4 cup whole wheat flour

-       1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

-       1/4 teaspoon baking powder

-       1/8 teaspoon baking soda

-       1/8 teaspoon salt

-       2 teaspoons flaxmeal

-       1.5 tablespoons brown sugar

-       1 packet stevia OR 1 more tablespoon sugar

-       1/3 cup canned carrots, drained OR steamed carrots, mashed

-       1 tablespoon milk of choice

-       1 tablespoon oil OR more milk of choice

-       1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

-       1/2 cup 1/3 less fat cream cheese

-       1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

-       3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar

-       2 Tbsp milk of choice

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Mix all wet ingredients and blend. Then mix ingredients dry into wet ingredients and stir in mashed carrots.
  2. Pour into a small greased dish or a mug. If using the microwave, cook for 1 minute 20 seconds. If using the oven, cook at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Let cool before removing from dish.
  3. To make frosting, blend ingredients together in a small food processor. Drizzle icing on cake.

* Recipe adapted from chocolatecoveredkatie.com

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