recipes

Be Fit Basics: Sweet Potato Pecan Pancakes

Ingredients:
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
2¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or ½ tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp allspice or nutmeg, with a pinch of cloves)
1/4tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp canola oil, plus more for the pan (est. 3 tbsp for greasing)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16 ounce) can of unsweetened sweet potatoes or yams, liquid drained and solids mashed together

Instructions
Combine flour, half the pecans (2 tbsp), baking powder, spice(s), and salt in a large bowl. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the milk, sugar, oil (1 tbsp), vanilla extract, and eggs; add these wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix until smooth; stir in sweet potatoes.

Heat a griddle or sauté pan.  Pour enough canola oil to grease the griddle or pan.  Spoon about ¼ cup batter (per pancake) onto your hot cooking surface. Flip each pancake when bubbles start to form on the surface and the edges look cooked.  Cook about 1 minute more, or until both sides are golden.  (Turn down the heat if the pancakes start to brown too quickly.)

Repeat with the remaining batter until all batter has been used, using additional oil to grease the pan as needed. Sprinkle pancakes with the remaining pecans.

Yield: Serves 6 (2 pancakes per serving)

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories:  310 • Protein: 8g • Sodium: 345mg • Carbohydrate: 37g • Fiber: 3g • Fat: 15g • Sat Fat: 1.5 g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light. Originally posted on clubsatcrp.com
Nutrition

Healthy Holidays: Adapting the “Balanced Plate” for Holiday Eating

balanced plateThe Holidays are often filled with rich foods that may not seem to fit into a balanced plate. But, with the proper portions and a few healthy tweaks, you can confidently create a balanced holiday plate without giving up your favorite dishes.

Many traditional holiday foods have a lot of starches and fat, so it’s important to keep in mind the balanced plate when eating during the holidays. Here are some tips to make your holiday eating a breeze!

PROTEIN: 1 palm-sized portion Protein

Make it work: 1 palm-sized portion of white meat turkey, ham, fish, or any other lean protein

Turkey and ham are traditional holiday proteins.  Try to eat more white meat rather than dark meat as this is a leaner source of protein. No matter your choice of holiday protein source, keep your portion to the size of your palm to fulfill your protein needs.

STARCH: 1 fist-sized portion starch

Make it work:  Usually a fist size of starch is recommended, but choosing smaller (½ fist-sized) portions of your favorite starches will allow you to have more options on your plate.  For instance:  ½ fist-sized portion of stuffing AND a ½ a fist-sized portion of mashed potatoes.

Starches can definitely be tricky with all of the options during the holidays. Holiday starches include stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and dinner rolls.  These tips can help to decrease the carbohydrates and help save room in your balanced plate for some dessert!

Swap 1: Switch out traditional mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower.  Mashed cauliflower has about 5 times LESS carbohydrates than mashed potatoes. If cauliflower isn’t for you, stick to a small portion size of mashed potatoes and use skim milk instead of cream.

Mashed Cauliflower

Swap 2: Add extra non-starchy vegetables to stuffing to decrease the carbohydrates per serving.

Carrot Mushroom Stuffing

VEGETABLES: 2 fist-sized portions veggies

Make it work: 2 fist-sized portions of non-starchy vegetable side dishes (such as green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, salad, etc.)

Remember that half of the balanced plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables. Try to avoid dishes with a lot of cheese, butter, or cream and instead choose roasted, sautéed, or raw vegetables.  There are many recipes online with healthier versions of traditional side dishes such as the Healthy Green Bean Casserole recipe below!

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon & Parmesan

FRUIT: 1 cup or 1 small piece of fruit

Make it work: Incorporate fruit in a festive way into your holiday meal. Add in any of your favorite seasonal fruits to make a festive, colorful side dish.

Winter Fruit Salad

Beverages

Stick to water as a beverage and save room for all the other delicious things on the plate! Starting the meal off with some lemon water will help you stay hydrated and able to enjoy the entire meal. Be mindful of alcohol, especially holiday drinks like eggnog! These drinks contain a lot of added sugar and fat.  Try switching to healthier versions or other fun beverages with very little added sugar.

Dessert  

There are many recipes out there for lighter versions of holiday desserts.  If you have a family favorite recipe, try searching online for some easy swaps to make sure you can have your pie, and eat it too!

These simple tips can ensure that holiday eating doesn’t wreak havoc on your progress towards a more healthy life! By making a few changes, you can still have all the traditional holiday foods while following the balanced plate guidelines.

Have a happy & healthy holiday season!

Content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services
Nutrition, recipes

“Everything in moderation!”

By Melanie Schermerhorn, Dietetic Intern

Most of us have heard the phrase, “everything in moderation.” Many say moderation is the key to success; for someone who has diabetes this phrase is especially true when it comes to what you eat. Moderation in relation to healthy eating habits, especially portion control, can have a huge effect on your overall health! To break the phrase “everything in moderation” down further, let’s talk about what it means. What your healthcare providers are saying is:  eat a balanced diet most of the time, but do not deprive yourself of the not-so-healthy things you enjoy. In other words, it’s alright to eat them but be sure to have them less frequently and in a smaller portion.

With diabetes this is important for your blood sugar management. The goal is to not completely deny yourself things like chocolate chip cookies, but instead maintain a healthy lifestyle while still treating yourself.  A tip to do this is buy smaller portion sizes, so having one small cookie won’t have as much of an effect on your blood sugar as a larger one would.  Another great way to keep track of your portions is reading the labels on packages for serving sizes. Sometimes a package could be more than one serving!  Sharing a baked good with a friend instead of eating the whole thing can help you consume less as well. You could make homemade treats with healthier ingredients like in the recipe below so you aren’t consuming a heavily processed carbohydrate.  So aim to keep your portions in check and when it comes to sweets “Everything in moderation!”

Recipe: Healthy Banana PancakesCombine 1 ripe banana, 2 large eggs, and a few shakes of cinnamon in a bowl until smooth. Heat up a pan on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Put a few spoon fulls of the “batter” into the pan. Cook until lightly brown on each side and serve.

Post content reviewed by Department of Nutrition and Food Services
Health, Uncategorized

Another “Mini”Relaxation Exercise

Meditation picture

The holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year.”  It’s also the time of year many feel the most stressed! The relaxation response is the body’s natural counter to the stress response.  If you’re feeling holiday stress starting to creep in, take a few minutes to try this mini relaxation breathing exercise from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine

INHALE, pause- 1,2,3         EXHALE, pause, 1,2,3

  • After each inhalation, pause and count: 1,2,3 (breath is held in)
  • After each exhalation, pause and count: 1,2,3 (breath is let out)
  • Do this for several breaths.
Health

Healthy Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

The holidays are a time of fun and excitement, but they can also be a time of added stress.

While stress is a normal part of life, it can have an impact on diabetes management. Stress hormones can raise blood sugar, and prolonged stress weakens the immune system and interferes with healthy self-care routines.

Stay healthy and enjoy the season with these techniques for managing holiday stress:

  • Prioritize – A common cause of holiday stress is trying to do too much at once. Focus on those things that are most important to you, and don’t be afraid to say “no” to taking on new commitments.
  • Take “time out” (Find a distraction) – Take a break and do something to clear your mind. Spend time with or call friends. Engage in some other activity you enjoy (like a favorite hobby).
  • Get Moving – Exercise is a known stress reducer, and sticking with your regular fitness routine can help with maintaining good blood sugar control. Small steps make a difference! Go for a walk, put on a yoga video or dance to a song on the radio.
  • Relax – Mind-body activities like meditation, deep breathing or positive visualizations elicit the relaxation response, the body’s built-in counter to the stress response.

Losing or maintaining a healthy weight is another source of stress for many during the holidays. The added pressures of the holidays can also contribute to emotional or stress eating (eating for reasons other than hunger). Signs of stress eating can be turning to comfort food after a difficult day, or mindlessly munching on snacks to burn off nervous energy. The downside is many comfort foods are high in sugar (which can raise blood sugar), fat, and calories. Distracted snacking makes it easy to take in more calories than expected. Consider preparing some healthy snacks to have accessible.

The techniques above can help with coping with stress eating as well, but if you’re still craving a crunchy snack or Mom’s Mac and Cheese go ahead and have some – just do so mindfully. Keep track of portion size, and eat slowly so you can really enjoy the food’s taste and texture.

It’s not possible to avoid all stress completely, but one final thing to remember is the holiday season (and the stress that comes along with it) is temporary. Slow down and enjoy the best the season has to offer. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or think you might be experiencing diabetes burnout, talk to your health care provider or a diabetes educator.

(Post content reviewed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine)
Nutrition

Healthy Holiday Swaps

By Veronica Salsberg, MS
Dietetic Intern

It’s estimated that approximately 26 million Americans, or just over 8% of the population, are living with diabetes.  Nearly 3 times as many Americans may have prediabetes.  Many people believe a diabetes diagnosis means the end to indulging in their favorite foods, making this festive time of year filled with holiday parties and traditional family meals suddenly feel especially stressful.  Yet others believe any attempts at maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays are doomed to fail. The truth is neither of these is the case! You can still enjoy celebrations with friends and family without that all-or-nothing mentality.

Heading out to a holiday party? Follow these tips to help you stay on track this season:

  • Stick to your normal eating routine as much as possible both leading up to the party and afterwards
  • Never go to a party or event hungry.  Have a small snack with a little protein, healthy carbohydrate and fat (such as a cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit or raw veggies dipped in 2 tablespoons of hummus) beforehand
  • Hydrate! We often feel hungry when we’re dehydrated, so make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day
  • Don’t graze from the appetizer table.  Use a plate and serve yourself small portions
  • Use smaller plates to help control portions.  Stick with 1 small plate of appetizers and 1 small dessert (or split 2 small desserts with a friend or relative)
  • If you’re drinking alcohol*, alternate with water or seltzer.  Flavored, calorie-free seltzers are a fun and festive non-alcoholic beverage that won’t leave you feeling deprived (*Check with your doctor if drinking alcohol is ok. General recommendations are no more than 1 drink/day for women and no more than 2 drinks/day for men)
  • Bring your own healthy snacks to your next party.  If you’re hosting, provide your guests with plenty of healthy options!

Helping to cook the holiday feast this year? Talk to your loved ones about putting a healthier spin on traditional recipes. Save on calories and fat and boost flavor in mashed potatoes by swapping out cream and butter for low-fat Greek yogurt and fresh snipped chives. On stuffing duty? Use whole wheat bread for added fiber and nutrients, and replace the melted butter with olive or canola oil. Check out the recipes below for ideas for healthier, but still delicious, holiday side dishes!

Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto & Pine Nuts ~ EatingWell

This green bean dish is just under 100 calories per serving, making it a much healthier alternative to the traditional green bean casserole.

Mushroom and Leek Stuffing ~ MyRecipes

Full of fresh vegetables and herbs,  and with fewer than 200 calories per serving this stuffing is sure to satisfy your taste buds without breaking the calorie bank.

Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots ~ MyRecipes

Try mashed sweet potatoes as an alternative to traditional mashed potatoes this holiday season. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin A.  Crispy shallots and fresh rosemary add flavor without adding to your waistline.

Butternut and Barley Pilaf ~EatingWell

Simple yet bursting with fresh flavors of parsley, lemon, and garlic, this dish has the added health benefits of whole grains from the barley and vitamin A from the butternut squash. It’s low in fat and calories and high in fiber which means you can indulge without guilt!

Mini Apple Pies with Cheddar ~ Eating Well

Save room for dessert! These adorable mini pies mean automatic portion control.   The white whole wheat flour, oats, pecans, and abundance of apples means each little pie has about 5 g of fiber!

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and tasty holiday season!

(Post reviewed by Debra Powers, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Senior Clinical Nutritionist)