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Food is everywhere during the holiday season. For many, holidays are a time to spend with friends and family gathered around a table. Holidays can be an exciting, joyful time for some and for others it can evoke feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Residents in a long-term care facility may long for that experience or have fond memories of those times with family. Many can suffer with loss of appetite from increased depression and increased feelings of loneliness. Holiday meals in a nursing home however do not have to be sterile or uneventful. Use some of the tips below to bring the holiday cheer to the residents.

  1. Ask residents about traditions they typically had with their families. Try a few.
  2. Request residents or family members to provide family recipes.
  3. Speak with residents to find out if there is anything they are really hoping to have at a holiday meal.
  4. Add an appetizer
  5. Hang up decorations in the dining room and facility.
  6. Provide festive placemats and napkins.
  7. Provide festive food- mashed potatoes should not be the same potatoes that are served weekly. Try something different.
  8. Use garnishes on the plates.
  9. Upgrade beverages and/or desserts

Making holiday meals to fit a doctor prescribed diet can also be a challenge. However, cooking healthy does not have to mean taking all the good stuff out and suffering with food that has virtually no flavor. Nor does it mean residents can not enjoy any of their favorite foods for the holidays. Try some simple recipe substitutions to make a meal more diabetic friendly and heart healthy.

Recipe States: Swap With:
1. One Whole Egg 1. 2 Egg Whites
2. Milk 2. Skim or 1% Milk
3. Ice cream 3. Frozen Yogurt
4. Cheese 4. Low Fat Cheese
5. Sour Cream 5. Greek Yogurt
6. Oil, Butter, Margarine 6. Applesauce
7. Heavy Cream 7. 2Tbs Flour whisked with 2 Cups Skim Milk

By substituting ingredients some foods can easily be made healthier while still having a great flavor. For example, heart-healthy olive oil can replace butter in most recipes. Sweet potato casserole can be sweetened with pineapple or orange juice instead of brown sugar and marshmallows. This can lower calories by 150-200 calories per serving and save 20-25 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Instead of green bean casserole offer no added salt sautéed green beans with sautéed fresh onions for a topping.

Desserts can also be made healthier by switching some ingredients out. Instead of a traditional pumpkin pie recipe try substituting for low-fat ingredients. Most pumpkin pie recipes call for at least 1 cup of cream or evaporated whole milk and 2 eggs. Use evaporated skim milk and 3 egg whites to cut about 300 calories and 30-38 grams of fat. You can also try a variety of crusts to reduce calories. For example, using gingersnaps to make a crust instead of flour and butter or even trying a crustless version can be great options.

With a little focus to details there are plenty of ways to elevate the dining experience during the holidays. Food can be used to show appreciation and lift spirits. Healthy meals can be served while still providing delicious holiday foods.

Resources

K-State research and Extension https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/

American Heart Association https://www.heart.org/en/