If there ever was a time for (seemingly) non-stop eating, it would be the holidays. Between all the work parties and Christmas reunions with friends and family, it’s quite miraculous that we all still manage to make it to New Year’s without bursting from all that food.
Still, as the Yuletide season also takes a toll on the stress levels of most fully-functioning adults, we shouldn’t exactly abandon our efforts to eat right at this time of year either. Proper nutrition, after all, is critical to holiday self-care.
But hey, you know what? Healthy menus don’t have to be confined to what I like to call rabbit food (e.g., salad leaves and water).
For instance, the following food combinations will not only please yours and your family’s taste buds, but will also do wonders for everyone’s nutrition levels at Christmas:
- Avocados and Spinach.
- Sweet Potatoes and Cayenne Pepper.
- Tomatoes and Olive Oil.
- Eggs and Cheese.
- Oatmeal and Water.
- Carrots and Chicken.
- Beef with Garlic and Onions.
This green, leafy vegetable is rich in carotenoids, which are great for reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. For your body to properly absorb these compounds, however, it needs fat.
While dumping an entire boat of gravy onto your spinach might work, it’s certainly not the healthiest option. Instead, try eating your greens with sources of good fat, such as avocados.
Good news for those of you who like your sweet potatoes with a little zing. Capsaicin, the compound that fires up all sorts of peppers, just happen to increase your body’s absorption of sight-saving beta carotene, which is abundant in many vegetables that have a vibrant orange hue (such as sweet potatoes).
Looking for a healthy yet scrumptious side dish? Why not dust a baked sweet potato with some cayenne pepper? Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice. Yum.
What’s behind the tomato’s beautiful red color? Lots and lots of lycopene. The powerful antioxidant prevents both heart disease and certain types of cancer, such as prostate, lung, bladder, and breast, but there’s one catch: the body can’t absorb it from raw tomatoes.
Fortunately, there’s a delicious solution. Cooking the tomatoes in olive oil results in the maximum absorption of lycopene, so feel free to serve up some good old-fashioned spaghetti on Christmas Eve.
Not quite a milk drinker? Eggs and cheese are a great alternative to promoting healthy bones, thanks to the calcium in cheese and the vitamin D from egg yolks.
Time for some omelette du fromage then, eh, 90’s kids?
By now, we pretty much know that the fiber in oatmeal helps keep you full longer, but did you know that it can also help reduce blood cholesterol levels?
Furthermore, oatmeal has a plethora of benefits, but the oats need to absorb water prior to consumption in order to work properly. So, instead of a typical calorie-laden Christmas breakfast, why not have a warm bowl of porridge made with oats, water, and perhaps even a bit of cinnamon?
Remember what we said about beta carotene being good for your eyes? Well, that’s only so if it’s been converted into vitamin A.
In an earlier example, the capsaicin in cayenne pepper served as the catalyst for beta carotene’s transformation into vitamin A. Here, you can pair beta carotene-rich carrots with chicken to get the same results; the zinc in the chicken is pretty much what does the job.
Chicken macaroni salad, anyone?
Zinc bolsters immunity while iron enhances muscle performance, and meat is loaded with both of them. Eating steak with a good amount of garlic and onions helps your body absorb those nutrients fully.
A little too late to revise your menu for Christmas Eve dinner? Don’t fret. You can simply apply what you’ve learned here when you wish to make healthy choices for the meals that will come before and after the momentous occasion.