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KIRSTEN LUPINSKI: The holiday season is quickly approaching

HEALTH AND FITNESS COLUMN: The year-end holidays can be enjoyable and healthy with preparation

Kirsten Lupinski

Kirsten Lupinski

How can the holiday season already be creeping up on us? How did it get to be November so quickly?

I am sure that many of you — just like me — are not ready for the holidays. But this year, we are all going to be prepared to have a healthy and enjoyable holiday season.

Starting in November and continuing until the New Year, we tend to let all the healthy habits we have picked up go out the window. This year, that is not going to happen.

Start with some healthy and nutritious recipes for family holiday celebrations and parties.

Of course, we all associate turkey with Thanksgiving. Turkey is very healthy and full of nutrition, but you have to be careful how it is prepared. The cooking method is the key.

Baking or roasting your turkey (the traditional methods) will ensure a good start. A 3.5-ounce portion of roasted turkey contains 165 calories and 7 grams of fat. Many people love to have deep-fried turkey for holiday celebrations and, believe it or not, fried turkey does not contain that many more calories or fat than roasted/baked. A 3.5-ounce portion of deep-fried turkey contains 190 calories and 11 grams of fat.

There are many creative and nutritious side dishes that you can make. One that I love instead of mashed potatoes is mashed cauliflower. Plus it is easy to make.

Break a head of cauliflower into bite-size pieces and steam in a saucepan with water, 1 clove of garlic and 1 leek (cut up into 4 pieces). Steam for about 20-30 minutes until tender. Drain and blend cauliflower in a food processor or blender. After blended, stir in 1 tablespoon of margarine and pepper to taste.

You can also make a similar recipe using cauliflower and one-half the potatoes you would normally use in mashed potatoes.

I have talked in the past about roasted vegetables and they can be a great addition to any holiday meal, Full of nutrition and easy to prepare. Cut up any vegetables that you and your family enjoy (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, squash), place on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, or longer if you want your vegetables crispier.

The last course, or dessert, is usually where you can add hundreds of calories and fat. As I always say, moderation is the key and you can enjoy those traditional holiday treats. Just know that a little will go a long way.

However, there are some treats that you can make that are more nutritious. One example is instead or apple pie or pumpkin pie, which are loaded with fat and calories (mainly from the crust), you can make Apple Pie Cupcakes. You will need the following: 1 ½ sheets of frozen puff pastry, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 3 apples (cored and thinly sliced), 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350. Let the puff pastry thaw out and cut into 8 equal pieces (you will only need 6 pieces). Brush with the melted butter and place in 6 muffin tins. Don’t forget to spray the bottom of the muffin tins and then sprinkle the puff pastry with the white sugar. Combine the remaining ingredients and divide between the tins. Sprinkle with some brown sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes.

These are not only delicious, but they eliminate all the added fat and calories from a traditional holiday pie. Enjoy!

Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children (5-year-old twin sons and a 2-year-old daughter).