Oh the eating that happens during the holidays… Whether you visit lots of friends and family or celebrate the holidays quietly at home, eating is a center point of almost all holiday events. Appetizers, party trays, chips and dips, mounds of potatoes, stacks of cookies, and the list can go on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good stuff! But a little planning and balance means you can enjoy all of your favorites.
The storming of Normandy
Yes, this is actually what my family calls my holiday meal prep list. I start with my menu, then check the recipes, then make a grocery list, then make my prep list. I still make some of the same recipes that my grandmother made for our holiday meals growing up. And some of the prep starts several days in advance!
So one of the holiday “essentials” is the green bean casserole and I have to admit I did not have this dish with a holiday meal until I was over 30. But I have learned to either make it or have someone bring it! If you are looking to ease the burden of being the host or hostess, definitely consider having other family members contribute dishes to the meal. I do recommend asking them to bring dishes that are ready to go and won’t mess up the ‘oven rotation’ such as salads or desserts or appetizers.
The Normandy list has gotten easier over the years. Partially because I host smaller groups nowadays and partially because I save the list every year so that I have a place to start for the next year!
But anyone who has cooked a full holiday meal knows, the planning and organization is essential!
One of my sisters-in-law has Celiac and is very strict in avoiding of gluten. My mom and I have successfully adjusted two of those family recipes I mentioned earlier – the squash casserole and the cornbread dressing. (Why, yes, I am Southern.) Gluten-free ingredients are getting easier to find it seems.
If someone in the family has a special diet requirement that would be more difficult to accommodate, I think it’s reasonable to ask them if they can contribute something just in case. I have been known to take my own sliced turkey breast to a meal when I knew steak was being served. But since I was being the picky one, I was more than happy to bring my own.
Maintaining your “diet”
Most of these holiday parties and meals are not offering the healthiest of selections. And once the holidays begin, there are usually ample opportunities to overeat and to choose unhealthy foods.
My biggest recommendation is to balance everything out, either by the day or by the week. If you know your weekend is going to be full of fried or cheese-covered or chocolate-filled treats, then be cautious of what you eat leading up to the weekend and probably the week after. Focus on lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also balance an individual meal, right on the plate. If I know I want to have some of the less-healthy options, I always try to fill half my plate with the fresh fruits/vegetables first before serving the other treats. Green salad and fresh fruit salad get huge portions before I serve myself some of the necessary squash casserole and cornbread dressing!