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The Holidays Are Coming! Time to Start Planning for Healthy Holiday Meals

Holidays don't have to be a time when your healthy eating habits have to stop. One good way to stay on target with heart-healthy eating is the DASH Diet, developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, follows heart-healthy guidelines to limit salt or sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and focuses on increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat milk products. It is also rich in whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. Try these tips during the holidays to stay on track with healthy eating:

  • If you eat only one or two servings of vegetables per day, try adding one serving at lunch and another at dinner.
  • Gradually switch to fat-free or low-fat milk and reduce servings of soda or other sweetened beverages.
  • Choose whole grain foods, such as whole wheat bread or whole grain cereals to get added nutrients, such as minerals and fiber.
  • When shopping, read the Nutrition Facts label on foods to find sodium content, and choose items lowest in salt or sodium.
  • Start with a simple 15-minute walk during your favorite time of day and slowly build up.
  • Don't worry about a slip. Start again, and be sure to celebrate successes.

The DASH guide is available for ordering through the NHLBI Information Center, (301) 592-8573 or (240) 629-3255 (TTY) or online at

Holiday Recipes

Fresh Cranberry Relish

1 package (12 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 medium orange, quartered and seeds removed
1 apple, cored
¾ cup to 1 cup sugar (or substitute non-sugar sweetener)

Put berries, orange and apple through food processor, blender or food mill until evenly chopped. Stir in sugar to desired sweetness. Mix well and refrigerate several hours before serving. May be frozen.

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

(15 servings per loaf; 173 calories per slice)
2 ½ - 3 cups sugar
3 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten
6-12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease three 8x4 inch loaf pans or 2 12-compartment muffin pans (or use paper cupcake liners.)

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, spices, salt and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, water, pumpkin puree and eggs.

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and combine thoroughly, making sure no unblended dry ingredients linger at the bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide the batter equally among the pans; muffin cups should be two-thirds full. Bake the loaves for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Muffins will take about 40 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting and storing.

Top Info Sources for Holiday Courses

Gateway to all government food safety programs

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Healthy holiday eating for people with diabetes

Trusted, consumer-friendly health information

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The Holidays Are Coming! Time to Start Planning for Healthy Holiday Meals / For Seniors, Eat with Caution

Fall 2009 Issue: Volume 4 Number 4 Pages 20 - 21