Holiday Health Challenge Preview

Have you had a moment to check out the Holiday Wellness Challenge?

The Holiday Wellness Challenge offers a fun way keep your clients on track during the holiday season. After all, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans gain an average of .4 to 1.8 pounds each year during the holidays. With a little know-how and some fun strategies, this weight gain can be avoided.

To get the details about the Holiday Wellness Challenge, check out the post Holiday Wellness Challenge over in the Food and Health blog.

And for an even closer look, I want to offer a preview of one of the chapters today!

Here’s the first handout from Chapter Five: Jump Start Your Breakfast. Feel free to download it and distribute as you see fit!

Jump Start Breakfast

Why Care About Breakfast?

Life is busy, and busy often ups its game during the holidays. Between parties, family projects, decorations, and shopping, something has to give. Breakfast should not be it.

Why? Here are some top reasons to care about breakfast…

  • Breakfast offers key nutrients that will give you energy. Plus, with the right foods, you won’t get hungry on your way to holiday activities and errands.
  • Furthermore, when you make healthful choices at breakfast, you start the day on the right foot. It’s easier to stick to good habits that way.

Breakfast Facts:

Having breakfast every morning kick-starts your metabolism.

Studies indicate that people who eat breakfast in the morning are less likely to get diabetes.

78% of the people in the National Weight Control Registry make a healthful breakfast part of their daily routine.

Breakfast is associated with a lower BMI, fewer calories consumed during the day, and a better diet.

Breakfast is a great opportunity to increase your consumption of fiber, whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy.

A healthful breakfast not only gives you energy, but also increases cognitive function.

Pumpkin Ideas for Halloween and Beyond

Cheryl Sullivan is here with a perfect pumpkin update!

Pumpkin FunDid you know that a single 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin provides 4 grams of fiber, no fat or cholesterol, and only 50 calories? Pumpkin also has more beta-carotene per serving than any other common food. Your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, and that may protect against heart disease and some cancers.

Let’s Talk About Fresh Pumpkins

Fresh pumpkins are available from late summer to well into the fall. Small sugar (a.k.a pie) pumpkins are the best for eating, though you can eat the large ones, too. Be sure the pumpkins are clean and dry, then store them a cool, dry, and dark place. Pumpkins may last for several months, depending on the storage conditions.

Cooking with Pumpkins

To prepare a pumpkin for cooking, cut off the top. Flip it over and cut a thin slice off of the bottom. That way, the pumpkin will sit flat on your cutting board. Using a large knife, cut slices of the skin off from top to bottom, working your way around the pumpkin, just like you would cut the skin off of an orange. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp, then cut the pumpkin into chunks.

To make pumpkin puree, steam those pumpkin chunks until they’re quite tender. Drain them, then puree in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, mash them as fine as you can with a potato masher. Press the mixture through a fine sieve or coffee filter and voila! Pumpkin puree is yours.

You can also bake unpeeled, seeded pumpkin halves at 325° until tender. This takes about 1 hour. Scoop the flesh out of the shell and puree it. Since this puree will be drier than the puree in the other method, you won’t need to drain it.

All homemade pumpkin puree may be frozen for up to six months.

You can also make pumpkins into a tasty side dish. Cut a peeled, fresh pumpkin into cubes and toss the cubes with 1 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons thawed apple juice concentrate, and a dash of nutmeg. Put the whole shebang into a baking pan coated with cooking spray and roast in a 400° oven for 30 minutes or until tender, stirring once.

Make a delicious and speedy pumpkin soup by heating 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin with 1 can of low-sodium broth, 1/2 cup of water or skim milk, and 1 teaspoon of mild curry powder. Heat the whole thing in a saucepan and serve warm.

You can even use pumpkin puree to make your own quick pumpkin ice cream. Soften 1 pint nonfat vanilla ice cream, then fold in 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 2 tablespoons sugar (or artificial sweetener), and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Refreeze, then scoop into 4 dishes to serve.

What About Canned Pumpkin?

Canned pumpkin puree is easy to use and works very well in recipes. Be sure to purchase plain pumpkin and not the pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling is loaded with sugar and other ingredients. Read the label carefully to see which one you are buying.

What are you doing with pumpkins this year?

By Cheryl Sullivan, MA, RD.

Looking for other seasonal resources? Check out the holiday materials in the Nutrition Education Store! My personal favorites include…

Holiday Survival Tips Poster

Holiday Challenge Toolkit

Holiday Exercise Poster