Friday, November 20, 2009

This Year, Make Holiday Meals a Rainbow of Color

As I ski through my first semester with the children of the Kansas City Missouri School District, one key message we are teaching is to choose a variety of colors with foods from each of the basic food groups.  This holiday season strive to be creative with entrées, side dishes and beverages. Bring color to the table with nutrient rich foods that are both good for the body and tasty.

When coaching our kids, we talk about power pick foods. A power pick food is a food high in nutrients and low in fat and added sugar. Think of two foods associated with each color of the rainbow. Go to the internet and search for healthy recipes containing these foods.

For example:
Red:  Try a cranberry apple sauce, strawberry Jell-O or a non-alcoholic pomegranate margarita. Mom always makes her strawberry Jell-O for holiday meals. We crave this dish year after year. 

Orange: Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are great examples of orange foods.  Make a moist, low-fat, nutrient dense chocolate cake by mixing a box of devils food cake with 1 15 oz can of pure pumpkin. This works for brownie cup cakes too and helps with portion control. Recipe compliments of

Yellow:  Try some flavorful spaghetti squash and corn. Lightly sautéed spaghetti squash with pepper and garlic is great for a side dish. Jalapeno corn muffins are delicious and can be a nice change from white dinner rolls. 

Green:  Power picks would be broccoli and spinach. How about a cheesy, broccoli casserole, using broccoli, brown rice, onions and cheese? A nice spinach salad is always a fresh way to start your meal.   

Purple:  Make some purple cabbage slaw with a vinaigrette dressing, raisins and sunflower seeds or roasted eggplant with fresh garlic, oregano and canola oil. 

Brown and White:  Turkey is traditionally brown and white. It is nutrient dense, low in fat and rich in protein. Beans are an excellent low-fat choice for protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. A three bean salad is a quick and easy dish to whip up. Make mashed potatoes using low-fat yogurt and Smart Balance in place of sour cream and butter. Jicama makes for a healthy appetizer, especially when dipped in holiday hummus made with chopped green parsley. 

Exercising with family members helps burn and digest holiday calories. So remember to get out and walk with family before or after your holiday meal.  Check out local Thanksgiving or Jingle Bell 5K run/walks. Most of my family members are doing the Thanksgiving 5k Family Fun Run/Walk this year!  Whatever your holiday meal choices may be, have a nutritious and active plan. Adding color to holiday meals can be fun, appetizing and very healthy!  So taste a rainbow this Holiday Season.

Post submitted by:
Carolyn R. Skelton
RD Nutrition Coach, Healthy Schools Partnership

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