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Eat, shrink and be merry Dec. 10, 2012
Written by: Marilyn Linton, QMI Agency
 
Indulge like Santa this Christmas, save calories like Scrooge

As the world turns, so do our arteries clog.

During the recent American Thanksgiving, I read about the Twinkie Turkey. If you’ve never had a Twinkie, it’s a cylinder-shaped sponge cake filled with some sort of creamy goo. The recipe calls for scraping the cream filling out of six Twinkies, slathering the creamy goo over the turkey’s skin, and crumbling the sponge cake and adding it to cubed corn muffins and diced apple to make a stuffing for the bird.

Getting through the holidays without overeating is hard enough, but adding extra saturated fat, sugar and salt (Twinkies have too much of all three) is asking for trouble health-wise. It’s not that one serving of Twinkie Turkey will kill you, but this recipe is just another example of the recipe overkill that has taken over our lives.

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Take the humble burger, for example. Today it’s pedestrian if it isn’t stuffed with foie gras or topped with a fried egg.

For the ultimate in fatty recipe makeovers, there’s Epic Meal Time, a satiric (I hope) online cooking show started by Montrealer Harley Morenstein whose series focuses on “recipes” that include meat, bacon and booze, and techniques that rely on deep-frying or roasting meat wrapped in even more bacon.

If you thought food porn was restricted to glossy magazine photos of gussied-up broccoli showered with toasted pinenuts, Epic Meal Time will shock and awe.

It just goes to show you that despite the abundance low-fat, low-calorie foods available and the constant warning about rising obesity, the diabetes epidemic and the folly of fast foods, it’s hard to ignore the suggestion that everything tastes better with bacon.

What to do in your own kitchen this season when frozen quiches, sausage rolls and meat pies beg to be baked in all their greasy splendour? Just adding herbs, not fat, for flavour is one idea. But just adding herbs doesn’t spell holiday in my books.

With yummy eating in mind I’ve compiled the following healthy eating websites, which promise to minimize harm while maximizing eating pleasure. And none of their recipes call for bacon!

Start with www.eatingwell.com, the website of the magazine that has given the world everything from low-fat rocky road brownies to Southern fried chicken without the frying. They have a reputation for creating recipes that please foodies and serious cooks who want to make healthy eating a way of life. You’ll find thousands of great recipes (try their winter orange and olive salad) plus articles on specific ingredients such as the world’s healthiest spices. Post-holiday you can check out their seven-day weight loss meal planner.

Don’t let www.cookinglight.com fool you into thinking that “light” means bland. I am devoted to its section on appetizers – 100 of them, all light in the sense they are made with less fat, salt or sugar than their regular recipe counterparts. I can’t decide whether to make their Cajun hot crab dip, their lemon chicken pot stickers, or their black bean hummus for Christmas starters.

Don’t forget Canada’s Janet and Greta Podleski, the saucy slim-down sisters with the TV show and books, including Looneyspoons and Eat, Shrink and be Merry. Check them out on www.foodnetwork.ca where you’ll find all sorts of tamed-down versions of high-fat favorites: I like their My Big Fat Low-Fat Greek Moussaka and Better Butter Chicken. Who says Christmas needs turkey?

Go to www.myrecipes.com for their amazing “healthy recipes” section. You’ll find thousands of recipes for diabetic, gluten-free (pecan pie!) or heart-healthy meals – even healthy meals under $2 -- all with calorie counts.

Finally, don’t be put off by the academic sounding Harvard School of Public Health because the recipes on this educational site are by high-profile chefs like Ming Tsai and Madhur Jaffrey. The Culinary Institute of America has created lots of recipes for them as well, including healthy but yummy fish tacos.

The napkin trick

Holiday buffets weaken the spirit, but according to recipe website www.epicurious.com, if you can’t fit your food choice on a napkin, chances are you’re eating too big a serving. Other tips: Don’t hover around the buffet, and act like an accountant so you can monitor fat, carbs and calories as you eat.

Have a game plan

To survive holiday eating, visualize what you’re going to eat and drink before attending an event. When you’re hosting, serve plenty of colourful fruits and veggies, and offer alcohol alternatives as well as wine and beer. By eating nutritious higher-fibre lower-fat foods 80% of the time, you can indulge 20% of the time. – www.dietitians.ca.

More or less

To encourage healthier eating, organize your refrigerator into different sections of “choose more often” and “choose less often.” This could be by shelf or within a shelf, always keeping healthier foods up front and less healthy foods toward the back. – www.healthyfridge.org

MORE COLUMNS BY MARILYN LINTON, QMI AGENCY

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