With all the focus on how not to gain weight, and what not to eat over the holidays, the wonderful nutrition in holiday foods often gets overlooked. If you want to celebrate all the healthy reasons to eat this holiday, take a look below to see the cornucopia of nutritional goodies our traditional foods bring to the table.
1. Pumpkin: Pumpkin is a remarkably healthy ingredient, providing 3 1/2 times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and a lot of fiber per half-cup serving. Pureed pumpkin lends itself to healthy cooking. It can, like applesauce and prune puree, replace fat in baked goods without giving them a rubbery texture.
2. Roast Turkey: Serve up three ounces of skinless turkey breast and you get a whopping 20 grams of protein with practically no fat. All that and only 100 calories. Plus you fill 25 percent of your daily need for niacin and vitamin B6.
3. Sweet Potatoes: Ounce for ounce, they have as much beta-carotene as carrots. A mere four ounces contain 50 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C, as much potassium as a banana and a good amount of fiber. All this adds up to one terrific disease-fighting food!
4. Cranberry Relish: There's a substance in cranberries that helps prevent urinary tract infections by interfering with the ability of bacteria to adhere to cell membranes. Cranberries also contain a potentially cancer-preventing compound called ellagic acid. Make a fresh orange-cranberry relish and get added benefit from the vitamin C in oranges.
5. Potatoes: Whether mashed or in latkes, potatoes are good food. They contain loads of vitamin C and potassium, plus fiber, iron, copper and plenty of B vitamins. Boiling potatoes will destroy some of the vitamin C and dissolve some of the rest of it into the cooking water. To help preserve the vitamin C content, use some of the cooking water instead of milk or cream when mashing them.
6. Figgy Pudding: Figs help make the pudding a nutritional gold mine. They are a good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium and niacin, plus they have a natural laxative effect.
7. Eggnog: Choose only the low-fat variety and enjoy a holiday tradition while getting a good amount of protein and some calcium. (Just be sure not to drink too much, since there's still lots of sugar and calories in even the low-fat version.)