Don't take a holiday from healthy eating this holiday season
Try this recipe for sweet potato and turnip mash
Americans celebrate the holidays in a lot of different ways, but while traditions may vary, food is a constant.
For many folks, the holidays "tend to have the reputation for lax food behaviors," according to Rachel Fox, a registered dietitian pursuing her master’s degree in public health at the University of Michigan. "The abundance of rich, sinful foods allows people the opportunity to overindulge on the wrong foods. But just because the holidays offer rich satisfying foods, does not mean they have to be unhealthy or unsustainable."
Sustainable cooking does not have to be difficult during the holidays, especially if you base your meal around produce available during the season, according to Fox, who is working as an intern with the Ecology Center’s Healthy Food in Health Care program.
"While every family will have different variations of traditional holiday meals, making a festive menu local and seasonal can be pretty straightforward," Fox says. "Many root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and onions are in season, and available from local growers. If you are can't get to a local farmers market, choose local or organic options at your supermarket. Even your turkey can be local, and raised without added growth hormones."
The Healthy Food in Health Care program is supporting recommendations from the national organization Health Care Without Harm for a “balanced menu” approach, encouraging hospitals to reduce meat and poultry purchases and provide more sustainably raised meat and poultry options. “Balanced menus” seek to reduce costs associated with meats and poultry that are not raised sustainably (including production and distribution costs, and air and water contamination). Although their work is focused on hospitals, the same concepts can easily be translated to home cooking and menu planning--'less meat, better meat,' is the campaign's slogan.
"While it might not be possible that everything on the table during the holidays will be sustainable, local, organic and healthy, every little bit counts!" Fox says. "If you attend a potluck, bring a local dish or local wine. If you are hosting, try to make at least half the meal local and seasonal."
She recommends this recipe from Eating Well for a new twist on mashed sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato and Turnip Mash
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
8 ounces turnips (about 2 medium), peeled and diced
3 large cloves garlic
30 fresh sage leaves, divided (12 left whole, the rest cut into strips)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked pepper
1. Place potatoes, turnips, garlic and 12 sage leaves in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain. Return the vegetables to the pan and keep covered.
2. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. As it melts and turns lightly brown, add the strips of sage and allow them to crackle and flavor the butter, about 1 minute.
3. Pour the sage and butter over the vegetables and smash with a potato masher. Stir in salt and pepper and serve.
Per serving: 88 calories; 4 g fat ( 3 g sat , 0 g mono ); 10 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 1 g protein; 2 g fiber; 224 mg sodium; 291 mg potassium.
EcoLink — November 2012 An online publication of the Ecology Center