Gourmands and gastronomes alike rejoice—Christmas is just around the bend. But with our doctors reminding us to keep an eye on our waistlines, farmers’ markets steering us towards shopping locally, and our consciences contemplating the humane treatment of what-will-be the poultry course, how can we serve up a meal to satisfy all? Consider these guidelines for a healthful and ethical Christmas holiday:
Choose a free bird. Historically, Christmas turkeys on factory farms have been born and raised in inhumane conditions. Although this issue has come to light in recent years, neglect still persists. Furthermore, the vast majority of supermarket turkeys are Broad-breasted White Toms, a breed selected largely for its “efficient production” (read: quick growth to market weight). Alternately, numerous small-scale farms around the country who are committed to humane practices raise heritage turkeys, a type of domestic turkey with natural behavior similar to that of a wild turkey. These breeds are prized for their beautiful plumage, rich flavor, and tender meat. For those who find heritage birds to be a little out of their budget, check with your grocer for Certified Humane, Certified Organic, Certified Naturally Grown, pastured, and free-range turkey or ham, or aim to buy from a local farmer, if possible.
Toss the meat. While some can’t imagine Christmas without the ham, for vegetarians, vegans, and pescetarians, opting out is a given. If you or one of your guests is skipping the poultry, be sure to provide an alternate source of protein, such as tofu, nuts, and seeds. While carbohydrates provide the body with immediate energy, protein delivers other nutrients which allow the body to continue to feel satiated in the hours following a meal. Consider the recipe at the end of the article for Crispy Tofu and Caramelized Onion Pomegranate Stew, which both vegans and carnivores can devour.
Everything in moderation. It’s been said before and it will be said again. Moderation is key to a balanced intake. While Christmas is a special occasion and may be an easy excuse for overindulgence, resist the temptation. Maintaining an “everything in moderation” philosophy and sticking to it, regardless of the abundance of cookies, candy canes and Christmas pudding, will strengthen your resolve year-round. Plus, eating appropriate portion sizes during the Christmas meal will keep you from feeling overly full and will leave you with plenty of leftovers.
Keep HowGood in mind. HowGood is an excellent resource for grocery shopping every day and during the holidays when grocery lists get longer as we feed all of our nearest and dearest. Look for HowGood ratings on the price tags at your local supermarket and be sure to visit Howgood.com where you can search over 104,000 products (and counting!) by name to determine if the products and ingredients you are purchasing are sustainable, local, ethically produced and minimally processed.
HowGood enables our customers to make educated choices about what products are best for your health, society and the environment. Happy Holidays!
By: Shira Katz is a California-based Registered Dietitian and former chef