[squash1]Additional holiday weight shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the amount of calorie-heavy foods eaten from Halloween to New Years. Most Americans only gain about a pound during the holiday season, but this weight can accumulate over a lifetime, according to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. You don\’t have to give up holiday favorites like cookies and cakes, just make some simple food substitutions and get a head start on your weight-loss New Year\’s Resolution before January 1.
Go veggie
Vegetarian dishes and appetizers are a great way to maintain a healthy level of eating around the holidays. “People are eating too much sugar and they need to steer more toward whole grains,” said Laurie Snyman of the Vegetarian Express, a company dealing only with all-natural items and is vegan-friendly. Snyman\’s website, www.TheVegetarianExpress.com, offers a variety of spices, soups, cookies and burger mixes. One of the most popular seasonings is the Parma Zaan Sprinkles. Snyman contends this is the perfect seasoning for popcorn and gives it an extra kick. Another Veggie Express staple is the cookie mix. “There are no bad sugars in this, it\’s all natural and you just add oil and water,” said Snyman.
Elizabeth Kersjes, a journalism sophomore and a vegetarian, discovered cooking her own food is a great way to eat healthy. “You can make food that has a lot more fruits and vegetables and less fat and preservatives than store-bought options.” Kersjes also said vegan desserts are another option for cooking without butter. “Not that everyone should be vegan for the holidays, but it\’s always fun to try a few new things out,” said Kersjes.
Co-op it
One place to find healthy food items is the East Lansing Food Co-Op, located at 4960 Northwind Drive. Their dedication to healthy living will make it easy to find any ingredients you are looking for without having to scan labels. Vegetarian Express items such as the Parma Zaan Sprinkles and burger mixes can also be found there. While organic items can take a bit out of the wallet, Co-Op employee Jessica Wedge stressed that there are regular sales to compensate. She recommended SoyaToo, a dairy-free whipped topping, for those special holiday desserts.
The co-op has a displayed list of items, compiled partially by Wedge, as well as many other magazines and pamphlets, to help customers eat healthier around the holidays. Wedge said the co-op has easy-to-do vegetarian appetizers as well as organic produce, much of which is local.
Feeling organic?
The newest eatery on M.A.C., Green River Café offers lots of organic and vegan options for students that don\’t have time to make their own meals. They offer vegetarian soups, sandwiches and smoothies that can be made vegan. According to employee John Drotar, the cafe is very flexible with their menu and can alter food items to fit a party\’s interests. They recently created a menu with Indian flair for a group coming in for a birthday party.
Work it off
MSU senior Erin Holcomb say she\’s interested in the benefits of eating vegetarian around the holidays, but will probably depend on exercise to keep holiday weight off. Holcomb plans to get a gym membership after the New Year and cut back on dairy products during the holidays. IM West and IM East both offer gym memberships (for fitness room only) for 75 dollars per semester. They offer group exercise and pool access for 105 dollars per semester. Holcomb is planning to add cardio to her work out to shed holiday pounds as well as adding items with higher protein content to her diet. Exercise is the perfect addition to dieting around the holidays. The DNP and CDC stress combining exercising with eating right, noting that you need to \”balance the calories you consume with the calories you burn.”
The holidays do not have to be stressful and neither does eating. Here are some quick, easy recipes to help keep your holidays both festive and healthy:

2 C. unbleached flour
1 1/2 whole wheat flour
2 2/3 c. Sucanat, brown sugar or raw sugar
1 T. molasses
1 cup chopped walnuts or 1/2 cup pecan/walnut meal
1 T. molasses
5 t. non aluminum baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. ground spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon)
2 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. vegetable oil
2/3 c. coconut milk, mixed well
2/3 c. flaked coconut
Mix and put into a greased, square cake dish. Bake at 350 (till knife stuck in the center comes out clean) about 40-60 minutes. Let cool. Frost or sprinkle powdered sugar on the top. This cake is sweet, tender and flavorful.

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cubed
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
1 fresh Anaheim chile, seeded and sliced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1 t.ginger
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. dried cherries or cranberries
1/4 teaspoon All-Purpose Veggie Salt
In a large bowl, stir together apples and lime juice. Stir in jalapeno and Anaheim chile slices. Stir in onion, cilantro, walnuts, ginger, and salt. Mix thoroughly.

1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 package taco seasoning
1 16 oz soy sour cream
1 c. soy mayonniase
1 bag soy cheese, cheddar-like
1 bag tortilla chips
1 pie pan
Mix seasoning, sour cream and mayo together. Layer the beans, sour cream mixture then cheese. Serve with chips.

4 c. sugar or substitute
2 (8 oz. each) pkg. Toffuti cream cheese, softened
1 (30 oz.) can pumpkin pie filling mix
2 tsp. ground cardamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
In a large mixing bowl, combine sweetener and cream cheese, beating until well blended. Beat in remaining ingredients. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Serve with gingersnaps, animal crackers, pretzels, etc. Using a small hollowed out pumpkin is a great way to present the dip.
Makes about 7 cups of dip.

1 cup cashew nuts or almonds (no skins)
1 cup chopped, softened dried dates (soak in water)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
6 cups water
Blend all ingredients in a blender till smooth. Pour into ice cube tray or glass dish. Freeze overnight. Remove 1 hour before eating and cut into squares. For smoothness, re-blend with 3/4 cup water and 1/2 of the squares. Add frozen bananas or use squares in your fruit smoothies.

Recipes courtesy www.TheVegetarianExpress.com

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