Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Party Survival

Maybe this post is late, but then again maybe I'm hitting it right in the middle.  The holiday season is said to last from Halloween through New Years, but I'd bet that it really lasts until Valentines day.  With all the candy, cookies, cocktails, and dinners what is a person to do when trying to stay healthy and/or lose weight this time of year.  It takes more than willpower to say no to that first or second helping of pumpkin pie.  Before heading off to another ugly sweater party, make sure you have prepared yourself biochemically to handle the onslaught of sugar.
the dreaded candy dish...
1. Eat breakfast and lunch and snacks!  Whatever you do don't starve yourself.  Without enough fat and protein in your stomach at throughout the day, you are setting yourself up for some major blood sugar fluctuations and a lack of neurotransmitters in your brain.  You will undoubtably show up at the party famished and grumpy and inhale every bowl of chex mix in sight and not stop to think when piling your plate high with mashed potatoes.

2. Bring something to share.  If you know the host or have been to the party previously, bring something to share.  Fresh veggies (red peppers, mini cucumber, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes...) and homemade ranch.  Deviled eggs topped with smoked salmon or Mini Meatballs or kale chips! This is especially important for people with food sensitivities.  Not every host will be gracious enough to accomodate your nutrition needs.

3. If you are going to drink...red wine is your best choice.  But this doesn't make it a free for all.  Alcohol decreases your metabolism by 30%, and after one or two glasses, inhibitions are lowered and that fruit cake starts to look more appetizing.  To stay hydrated and give your liver the best chance possible, drink two glasses of water between each alcoholic beverage.

4.  Focus on protein and non starchy vegetables, and pick one to two FAVORITE high carb items.  If there is a special desert you only get once a year, you may need to pass on the Pillsbury croissant rolls.  This might be easier said than done when other guests are passing processed foods past your plate, but if you've come to the party with balanced blood sugars and brain full of serotonin, you'll be better able to let them pass.

5.  Think of how you will feel or how you want to feel.  Do you want to leave the party feeling bloated and depressed?  Probably not.  Or do you want to leave the party feeling satisfied and happy with your food choices.  When the store bought sugar cookies come out, remind yourself of how you want to feel and how much your health means to you.  Remind yourself that the trans-fats in those cookies lead to crusty cells, heart disease, and a slow metabolism.  Now how bad do you want that cookie?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Whipped Coconut Milk

So... not only are you lactose intolerant, but you are in fact 100% dairy intolerant.  That stinks.  I'm thankful that this is not the case for me, but for some of my friends and clients it is.  While team teaching the Nutrition for Weight-loss Program with my coworker Oralee, she requested that I try and make whipped coconut milk.  One of our favorite dessert or bedtime snacks that we recommend to participants is berries and cream.  But not everyone can tolerate even this high fat, low protein, low lactose dairy.  For them the obvious substitution is coconut milk.  However, sometimes you want something a little more special than just pouring the liquid "milk" over the berries.  TADA! Whipped coconut milk.

There are countless directions on the internet describing how to make it, but here I go any way.

1. Refrigerate your can of coconut milk over night or during the day.

2. Spoon of the solid portion that has condensed on the top and place it in a stand mixer or a large bowl.

3. Whip for 3-5 minutes.  You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times.  While whipping add 1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp honey.

4.  Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for several days.

5. Spoon onto low carb pumpkin pie instead of cool whip, or just put a big dollop on top of some berries.  I'm partial to organic black berries since a bag of the frozen ones are a whole dollar cheaper than strawberries or blueberries!

Of course now you are left with the liquid portion in the bottom of the can.  I thought it would taste like the expensive coconut water sold in stores.  It's actually more coconuty and creamier and much much tastier!  I couldn't find any nutrition stats on this liquid portion, but go ahead and drink up as is, or add to a smoothie.  If you're feeling festive warm it on the stove or pour over ice and stir in some kahlua or rum or chocolate liqueur.  Mmmm....