Friday, December 5, 2014

Recipes for Holiday Success!

It's so tempting this time of year to disregard everything and just enjoy all the season's offerings.  There are so many yummy temptations available to us all.  We tell ourselves: Just one of everything is ok, right?  Uh.. no... because there is SO much that one of everything becomes 20 different tastings of food you would probably only have once every other month at any other time of the year.  You could choose to indulge but the problem is if you do that - you'll spend the next year trying to undo a few weeks of indulgence.  It's just not worth the laziness or lack of self-discipline.

So, here are some recipes that can be really great for the season when you're entertaining or just making family meals more fun!  I will say up front, some of these involve processed protein powder.  I'm not a fan of using this regularly unless your diet requires it and in that case, I am an advocate of the plant based varieties.  Do your research and you can find some protein powders that aren't mixed with all the manipulated additives.  Non-GMO is your friend but that label alone isn't enough.  OK, off that soapbox and on to the yummy!

Sweet Potato Protein Pancakes  (single serving size)

1 medium sweet potato
1 level scoop of protein powder (chocolate or vanilla)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon OR pumpkin pie spice mix
1/2 cup egg whites
(Optional) 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

Bake the sweet potato in the microwave (wrapped in saran) for about 6-8 minutes until the center is soft.  You can either peel the skin or put the whole thing in the food processor and eat the skin mixed in... which is very good for you!  If you use the food processor, you can mix in the other ingredients there so you don't dirty another dish.  Allow the potato to cool for a couple minutes, add a splash (about half) of the orange juice.  Pulse then add the egg, spices and protein.   Pulse until smooth.  Some people also like to add nuts but beware that will add fat to the dish as well.  Only use the remaining orange juice if the batter thickens up too much.  The citrus really livens the potato.

You should get about 4 pancakes from this batter - which is one serving.  In total, it's about 180 calories for the entire serving, .5 grams of fat (unless you add nuts), 24g of carbs but only 7 of those is sugar, and 20 grams of protein!  That's enough fiber, energy and flavor to start your morning right. 

I've doubled the recipe but never tried doing it for much more than that at a time.  I find that if you boil a bunch of potatoes you can mix the batter in batches and make enough for the whole family. We usually put ours with eggs and some form of breakfast meat, so everyone will eat only a couple pancakes.  This does not include the teenagers who will happily eat as many as we let them...

Speaking of eggs, you can add greek yogurt and / or a scoop of plain (unflavored) or vanilla protein powder to eggs.  With enough cheese (beware the fat!) and spices, you won't taste the protein but you'll get a huge boost to your daily intake.  It also stretches the eggs (or egg whites) to feed more people which can be a big plus for feeding a large family.  I find that if you want to add this in (or pureed vegetables so the kids won't notice), it's best to make the eggs an omelette or a hash.  Layering the flavors helps hide some of the healthy stuff.

For snacks (or even dessert) you can make your own mousse (tell the kids it's pudding). 
Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse

1 single serving of fat-free vanilla greek yogurt
4 tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter with Chocolate

Stir them together.  The more powder you add, the thicker the mousse.  You can even freeze it to make a soft ice cream.

125 Calories, 1.5 g fat, 9 g sugar, 19 g protein

If you are not familiar with PB2, I recommend learning about it.  I love peanut butter and giving it up because of the fat and sugar content was making me sad.  While PB2 is more expensive than regular peanut butter, it has allowed me to have more peanut butter in stuff which is a happy thing.   You can find it at most regular grocers, Target, etc.  I just wish it came in crunchy...

On the dessert note, if you're going to make pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie, you can add about 3 scoops of your favorite vanilla protein and really add something valuable to the dish.  It will change the texture a bit (make it stiffer) but not the flavor.  It will also give you about 10 grams of protein per serving (usually 8-10 per pie) that you would not have had before. Dessert can be good for you too!

As for lunch and dinner, I'll have more recipes for other days on those but the general advice is lay off the breads and starches.  Only have one and it should be the smallest portion on the plate.  Try to include something leafy and green whenever possible. 

If you make it through the same size or smaller, then you win!  The only competition is your self-control.  Also, if you really have something you love at this time of year - don't reserve it for just December.  You are allowed to enjoy gingerbread, pumpkin, and other traditionally "fall" flavors at any time of the year.  Then when the holidays roll around, you'll be far less tempted to indulge or binge.

And let's be honest, when your plate has mashed potatoes, rice, stuffing, meat with gravy, corn pudding, smothered green beans, sweet potatoes, and more on it followed by a taste of all the desserts and washed down with a glass (or four) of alcohol, soda and eggnog - that's a binge.

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